Tennis Roundup : Noah Returns to '83 Form, Wins Italian Open

May 20, 1985| From Times Wire Services

Yannick Noah spoiled Miloslav Mecir's 21st birthday Sunday at the Foro Italico in Rome.

The ninth-seeded Frenchman, who just turned 25 Saturday, defeated the seventh-seeded Czechoslovakian, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6, to win the $435,000 Italian Open.

For Noah, it was his first major tournament victory since the 1983 French Open.

"I was hitting my passing shots well, but Noah won anyway," Mecir said after the 3-hour, 5-minute match.

Noah's serve-and-volley game finally made the difference as he took a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker and won it, 7-4, to earn the $56,000 prize.

Noah said he thought his willingness to rush the net rather than relying on passing shots was the key to his victory.

He also credited what he called his new image, no longer the long-haired bachelor of the tennis circuit.

"A few years ago, I was playing as a single man. I had nice long hair and a playboy image. Now I'm married and have a child," he said.

Noah's next big challenge is the French Open, which he is anticipating with great enthusiasm.

"I just can't wait to play the French Open because I feel I am ready," he said.

At West Berlin, Chris Evert Lloyd defeated 15-year-old Steffi Graf, 6-4, 7-5, in the final of the $150,000 West German Women's Open to win the 136th tournament of her career.

The 30-year-old Lloyd, the No. 2-ranked player in the world behind Martina Navratilova, said after the match that her competitor had the makings of a world champion.

"Even when I played against her for the first time three months ago, I could see she can become a great player," said Lloyd after collecting the $27,500 first-place prize.

Graf, ranked No. 14 in the world, spotted Lloyd a 5-1 lead in the first set, but came back to make it 5-4. Lloyd's experience carried her through, but not until Graf had fought off four set points.

The West German jumped off to a 3-0 lead in the second set before Lloyd recovered to lead, 5-4. Three times, however, Lloyd failed to win on match point, and Graf broke through to pull even at 5-5. Lloyd then settled down and won the match on her only ace.

"I think she has an all-around game," Lloyd said. "She can play very well on grass, on clay. But mentally she's already one of the strongest women on the circuit, and she has her whole tennis life before her."

Graf, who received $13,750, said: "I think I gave it my best. Chris is one of the true greats in tennis, and to lose against her is no disgrace."

Graf said she was happy to have reached the final.

Pam Shriver defeated Kathy Jordan, 6-4, 6-1, in the final of a $75,000 tournament at Melbourne to win her second successive Australian indoor championship.

Last week, Shriver won the Australian Indoor Championship in Sydney.

Sunday, she took just 68 minutes to demolish Jordan, whose serve, which had been working well all week, mysteriously deserted her.

Shriver collected $12,000 and Jordan earned $6,400.

"Everything for me right now points toward Wimbledon. I couldn't be happier," Shriver said. "I'm more confident on the court now than I was last year.

"If I play like this for the rest of my career, there will be a lot of good things in store."

Jordan said later she was let down badly by her serve and was unable to force Shriver.

"I can't get my game into gear and rhythm when I'm not serving well," Jordan said. "You have to start off right and you get a little nervous at the start of a final."

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