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U.S. Open Tennis Championships : No. 115-Ranked Haarhuis Ousts McEnroe; Becker Survives in 5 Sets

August 31, 1989|Associated Press

Becker said he began thinking of a Davis Cup match in July, in which he was down two sets to Andre Agassi. Becker won that match in five sets and West Germany went on to eliminate the United States.

Becker's serve and volley game, virtually absent in the first two sets against Rostagno, began to assert itself in the third as he came back to avoid a sweep.

Rostagno served for the match after breaking Becker to go ahead 6-5 in the fourth set. The break-point came on a cross-court backhand volley with Becker stretched on the court after he had lunged for a forehand.

Rostagno won the first point of the next game, but Becker took the next four to set up the tie-breaker.

Rostagno broke Becker on the ninth point of the tie-breaker to go up 5-4, then moved to within a point of clinching the match when Becker smacked a backhand return long.

Rostagno hit a forehand volley long as Becker saved the first match point. Rostagno's lost his second chance at victory when he misjudged a net-cord shot by Becker that appeared to be going wide. Rostagno was handcuffed by the shot and could only deflect it out.

"When you get a shot like that on match point, it's quite sweet," Becker said. "I was hoping he would go down the line, but he read my mind. And the only chance I had to win that point was (to) hit the tape. He was there to hit the volley."

Rostagno said that was the turning point of the match.

"He probably had the feeling at the net that nothing could go wrong," Rostagno said. "I was thinking if he didn't use up all his luck at that point, then nothing would. I thought I would have a few lucky breaks after that."

Becker won the next two points, the second one a beautiful backhand lob that caught Rostagno at the net, and took the tiebreaker 8-6.

Rostagno reached for balls that might have gone out several times earlier in the match, and made them. That gambling, aggressive attack paid off for awhile, but couldn't sustain him.

The fifth set seemed to be all Becker's, as he raced to a 5-1 lead, but Rostagno refused to quit. He held serve, then broke Becker at 30 to pull within 5-3. Becker, uninterested in another tiebreaker, asserted himself quickly on Rostagno's serve and broke him back to take the match.

Rostagno, ranked as high as No. 36 on the ATP tour last year, had a couple of memorable five-set marathons at Wimbledon in 1988. He beat Marty Davis in the second round, taking the final set 16-14, then lost a five-setter to Jimmy Connors.

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