Yannick Noah combined subtlety and power to defeat defending champion Aaron Krickstein, 6-4, 7-5, Saturday to advance to the finals of the $400,000 New South Wales Open at Sydney, Australia.
Noah, seeded No. 8, will meet West German left-hander Carl-Uwe Steeb, No. 7, in today's final. Steeb advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 semifinal victory over Mats Wilander of Sweden.
Steeb, who stunned reigning U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Boris Becker in the quarterfinals, was too consistent from the baseline for the fifth-seeded Wilander. He raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set and Wilander never really got into the match.
Steeb was far steadier from the backcourt and repeatedly passed Wilander when the Swede advanced to the net.
Noah won the first set in 42 minutes after breaking Krickstein's serve in the seventh game, but found things much tougher in the second set, when Krickstein rallied from 4-2 and love-30 to lead, 5-4, before Noah reeled off the final three games.
The Frenchman was particularly effective at the net, winning 23 points to Krickstein's six.
"He's hitting his groundstrokes a lot better than he used to," Krickstein said.
The women's singles final will pit Soviet Natalia Zvereva against Austrian Barbara Paulus.
Zvereva, seeded 11th, defeated Amy Frazier, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, and 10th-seeded Paulus beat Judith Wiesner of Austria, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Zvereva will be seeking her second consecutive title after winning the Queensland Open in Brisbane last week.
John McEnroe rallied to beat Masters champion Stefan Edberg of Sweden and win the Rio Challenge at Adelaide, Australia.
Edberg, ranked third in the world, had match point in the second set, but McEnroe fought back to win, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.
McEnroe needed two hours 17 minutes to wear down Edberg in the final of the six-man, round-robin event.
The tournament was a lead-in for the Australian Open, which begins Monday at Melbourne.
Edberg won the first set in 44 minutes, but McEnroe made more mistakes than usual. That pattern continued early in the second set when Edberg broke for a 4-2 lead and served for the match at 5-4.
McEnroe kept the pressure on Edberg, however, breaking back to 5-5. He never trailed in the second set tiebreaker.
The decisive set went with serve to 4-4 before Edberg was broken. McEnroe then served out for the match.
Scott Davis lost the first set, then came from behind to defeat India's Ramesh Krishnan, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, in the semifinals of the $175,000 New Zealand Open at Auckland.
The eighth-seeded Davis will play Andrei Chesnokov of the Soviet Union in the championship match today.
Chesnokov, the No. 1 seeded player, survived a tiebreaker in the first set before beating Israel's Amos Mansdorf, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.
Trisha Laux, a junior from USC, advanced to the finals of an invitational collegiate tournament at Palm Desert with wins over NCAA champion Sandra Birch of Stanford, 6-2, 6-3, and Jessica Emmons of UCLA, 6-1, 6-2.
Laux will play Meredith McGrath of Stanford in today's championship match.
USC's Byron Black, the No. 2 seed in the men's singles, was upset by Conny Falk of Miami (Fla.) in the quarterfinals, 6-7 (7-5), 6-2, 6-1.