SAN FRANCISCO — Certainly, it would have been understandable if Peter Lundgren had come out flat and uninspired Sunday for his match against Jim Pugh in the $293,400 Transamerica Open final.
The 22-year-old Swede had stayed on the court just past 10:30 Saturday night and pulled off the biggest upset of his career, defeating No. 1-ranked Ivan Lendl in an extremely tense semifinal. Lendl held two match points, while Lundgren squandered four before securing the victory.
Some were calling the Lundgren-Lendl match one of the best in the tournament's 98-year history. This event, which began in Monterey, Calif., was formerly known as the Pacific Coast Tennis Championships.
Keeping this in mind, Lundgren-Pugh was destined to be anticlimactic at best, a yawner at worst. The match fell somewhere in between as Lundgren defeated Pugh, 6-1, 7-5, in 1 hour 25 minutes at the Cow Palace.
Pugh, who lives in Palos Verdes, looked almost stunned under the pressure of Lundgren's ground strokes in the first set. He also appeared nervous because it was his first Super Series Grand Prix final.
It took Lundgren just four games to secure his first break of the match. Pugh double-faulted on break point to give Lundgren a 3-1 lead. Lundgren then proceeded to hit three aces and go up, 4-1.
Well . . . so much for the letdown theory.
"It went so fast, I didn't have time to think about it," said Pugh, who is ranked No. 58. "It had to be one of the fastest sets I've ever lost. I couldn't get going, and I couldn't get any serves in. I don't know whether it was me who was playing badly or whether he was playing so well. I think it was a combination of both."
Lundgren, ranked No. 49, admitted he worried about getting off to a quick start, especially since he felt somewhat fatigued from Saturday night's 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 victory.
"I got a good start today," said Lundgren, who received $44,400 for the victory. "It was very important for me because I was a little stiff and a little tired."
Yet, Lundgren felt ready to go three sets if necessary. And, at one point, it looked as though that could happen. Pugh, who hits two-handed strokes off both sides, rediscovered his passing shots, and his ground strokes picked up in the second set.
He broke Lundgren in the second game and held to take a 3-0 lead. Then Pugh began to struggle with his serve, which had helped him upset No. 2-seeded Tim Mayotte in the first round. He double-faulted twice in the fifth game as Lundgren cut the deficit to 3-2. The two exchanged breaks before Lundgren held to pull to 4-4.
The final break, which decided the match, came in the 11th game. Lundgren hit a drop shot and a backhand passing shot for winners, and Pugh hit a backhand wide, giving the Swede the chance to serve out the match. And, unlike Saturday, he just needed one match point to win.
Peter Lundgren has recorded victories over No. 3-ranked Mats Wilander and two wins over Wimbledon champion Pat Cash in the last two months. One victory over Cash came in the first round of the U.S. Open. . . . The final was played before an announced crowd of 11,622. Jim Pugh, who played for UCLA, received $22,200.