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Masters Tennis : Becker Gets Off on Wrong Foot but Wins

January 15, 1986|United Press International

NEW YORK — Boris Becker overcame a slow start and oversized shoes to sweep the final five games and overcome Paul Annacone, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, Tuesday night in an opening round match of the $500,000 Masters tennis tournament.

After trailing, 2-1, in the final set, the 18-year-old Wimbledon champion captured took four of the last five games at love and earned a quarterfinal berth against Mats Wilander.

Becker, who changed to a smaller size shoe in the second set, said of the match, "In the first round I always have problems. A first-round match is like a final for me. If I can get through it I play better and better."

Wilander, the third seed, took a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Scott Davis. Johan Kriek registered a mild upset in beating fifth-seeded Stefan Edberg, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

The season-ending championship of the 1985 Grand Prix circuit lost a top drawing card when No. 4 Jimmy Connors was forced to withdraw because of the flu. Connors has played in the Masters 10 times, winning in 1978.

Andres Gomez flew in from Washington to replace Connors and faced Henri Leconte in Tuesday's final match. Gomez had to withdraw from the Masters last year with a shoulder injury.

Top-seeded Ivan Lendl and defending champion John McEnroe, seeded No. 2, are scheduled to play their first matches tonight.

Becker and Annacone, both making their first appearances in the Masters, attacked the net whenever possible and little separated them in the first two sets.

Annacone, who has climbed from No. 94 to 13 in the world rankings during the last year, broke in the sixth game of the opening set and Becker evened matters in the fourth game of the second set when his New York rival double faulted on the final point.

After Annacone held to go up, 2-1, in the deciding set, Becker captured the next three games at love for a 4-2 lead. Annacone managed to get to deuce in the next game only to see Becker break again, and the West German served out the match at love, ending it with an ace.

Although Annacone had six aces, one more than Becker, he blamed a poor serve for his loss.

"I couldn't get my serves in and he returns too well if you let him set up," Annacone said. "Once he gets on top he's very emotional, a confidence player."

Kriek, who has failed to advance beyond the quarterfinals in three previous appearances in the Masters, returned serve well against Edberg, who hurt his own cause with numerous errors.

After Kriek easily took the opening set, Edberg appeared to settle in the second as he raced to a 5-2 lead. Kriek broke in the eighth game and held in the ninth to close to 4-5, but Edberg followed with another break to even the match.

Kriek then broke in the first and fifth games of the final set.

"He didn't play well because I played unbelievable," Kriek said. "When he served well, I returned well. That made him lose a little rhythm on his serve."

Wilander, the French Open champion, was successful on 75% of his first serves and was broken only once, early in the match. He achieved the only break of the second set at 30 in the seventh game, and closed the match with an ace.

Wilander, who said there was no pain in the right arm he injured during the Australian Open, never has enjoyed much success in Madison Square Garden, losing in the opening round of his first Masters in 1983 and then bowing to McEnroe in the semifinals the last two years.

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