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Rain Only Delays Lendl's Victory

February 24, 1986| Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Top-seeded Ivan Lendl won a pivotal rain-delayed tiebreaker and then cruised to a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 victory over second-seeded Mats Wilander of Sweden to win the men's singles title in the Lipton International Players Championships Sunday.

The third-set tiebreaker was interrupted by a 3-hour 15-minute rain delay. The score was 2-2 when the rain began at 4:15 p.m. EST.

When the players returned to the court at 7:30, they traded points to 5-5, when Wilander made two great saves of powerful Lendl forehands, only to hit a backhand long. Lendl won the tiebreaker with a drop volley.

Neither player could make a dent in the other's serve in the final set until Wilander missed three first serves in the 10th game, and Lendl responded by slamming deep returns. Wilander hit three straight backhands long, then floated a forehand long on the first match point. The match lasted 3 hours 24 minutes, not counting the rain delay.

"I was struggling all day long," Lendl said. "I couldn't get the crunch on my serve. But I played much better once we got back out."

Lendl picked up $112,500 for the victory. Wilander earned $56,250.

Wilander served more aces than his usually strong-serving opponent, 11-9. But the Czechoslovakian right-hander had 42 winners, compared to 17 for Wilander.

Lendl has a 9-6 career edge over Wilander and has won four of their last five meetings. He has lost only one match in his last 47.

"I played well in the first set. I don't think I've played that well since the French Open," said Wilander, who beat Lendl on clay in the final at Paris. "But I didn't play as well after that."

Wilander said waiting for the rain to stop was difficult, but he didn't feel the delay hurt him any more than Lendl.

"It's always very difficult because a tiebreaker is so tense," Wilander said. "But it's better to sit for three hours than to wait until the next day. It still feels like the same match this way."

Both players served well in the first set. The one service break of the set came in the sixth game, when Lendl saw a 40-0 lead evaporate and eventually lost when he netted a forehand after Wilander returned a well-placed drop shot.

Lendl had one break point on Wilander's serve in the seventh game. But the Swede responded with an ace and went on to win the game and the set.

Lendl dominated the second set, winning 20 of the first 24 points and closing it out with a backhand passing shot.

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