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Edberg Lags, but Catches Up to Beat Connors

November 20, 1987|LISA DILLMAN | Special to The Times

The Stefan Edberg world tour pulled into Los Angeles for an exhibition at the Forum Thursday night, sputtered and eventually pulled out a three-set victory over Jimmy Connors.

Connors, who was substituting for Ivan Lendl, pushed Edberg before losing 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, in front of 9,390 spectators. Near the end, Edberg looked fatigued, probably the result of of jet lag.

It's not uncommon for players to live a virtual whirlwind existence, but Edberg's schedule is incredible, if not a bit chaotic.

Consider:

--After losing to David Pate in the final of the L.A. Grand Prix event in September, Edberg hopped on a plane and flew to Spain. There, he helped lead Sweden to a Davis Cup semifinal victory over Spain. More significantly, Edberg was making the difficult transition from cement to clay.

--It was back to the faster surfaces as Edberg defeated No. 1-ranked Lendl in a tournament at Tokyo, then won the Swedish Open at Bastad.

Now comes this week. His schedule has stops in Los Angeles and Mexico. Then, he joins Lendl, John McEnroe and Pat Cash in Florida for the Stakes Match--a type of Skins Game for tennis--after Thanksgiving.

After that, both Connors and Edberg will play in the Masters in New York, which includes the top eight point-winners on the men's tour.

Connors heads into the Masters having completed a successful year, the most successful one by an American player. He reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and made the quarterfinals at the French Open.

Connors looked sharp in taking the first set, 6-4. Edberg won the next by the same score, finishing the set with an ace. They played evenly until the third-set tiebreaker, which the No. 2-ranked Edberg won, 7-4, finishing the match with a backhand volley.

Connors filled in for Lendl, who underwent oral surgery on Tuesday. Lendl's doctor didn't want him to play just two days later.

In a preliminary match, 1986 NCAA champion Dan Goldie defeated 16-year-old Pete Sampras of Rancho Palos Verdes, 6-2, 7-6. The tiebreaker score was 7-3.

Goldie, ranked No. 55 in the world, filled in for Eliot Teltscher, who withdrew because of a shoulder injury. Sampras is regarded as one of the top American junior players. He completed a successful summer on the junior circuit, recording a victory over Michael Chang in the second round of the U.S. Open and winning the singles and mixed doubles title in the U.S. Olympic Festival at Raleigh, N.C.

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