NEW YORK — Fifth-seeded Boris Becker regained his form in the final set to beat fourth-seeded Jimmy Connors, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, in the Masters tennis championship Thursday night.
Connors' second straight loss in the $500,000 tournament virtually eliminated him from title contention in the eight-man, season-ending event, even though he has a match remaining tonight against top-seeded Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia under the round-robin format.
In other matches, Lendl opened his bid for a fifth Masters title, winning seven straight games en route to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over eighth-seeded Brad Gilbert, and second-seeded Stefan Edberg of Sweden brought his record to 2-0 by beating sixth-seeded Miloslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia, 6-3, 6-3. Mecir dropped to 0-2.
Connors, spurred on by the crowd of 10,977 at Madison Square Garden, appeared to take command when Becker double-faulted four times to lose the opening game of the final set. But the 20-year-old West German won the next four games to take a 4-1 lead and held serve the rest of the way.
Becker double-faulted 10 times in the 2-hour 34-minute match--but he made up for it with 17 aces and 15 service winners.
"I was very pleased with my serve," Becker said. "It was the key to my win tonight because I served very well on the big points."
Connors, who played poorly in a loss to Gilbert Wednesday night, was sharp against Becker. The crowd cheered wildly several times when he hit clean winners off Becker's serve.
"I thought I played all right tonight and I thought he played all right," said Connors, who is 0-5 in his career against Becker. "It was a good match. I think everybody enjoyed it.
"Tennis needs more matches like this."
Becker called it a "typical Becker-Connors match."
"It was very hard-fought until the end. He wasn't 100% and I wasn't 100% before the match. As it went on, he got better and I got better, and we brought out the best in each other."
In contrast, Lendl needed only 68 minutes to beat Gilbert for the 13th consecutive time.
"I was very nervous at the beginning, and it took me a while to shake it off," Lendl said. "After that, it was pretty easy."