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Edberg Prevails Over Lendl in Five-Setter : Australian Open: Courier also advances. Loss to Sabatini takes a toll on Capriati.

January 22, 1992|From Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia — Top-seeded Stefan Edberg, showing he has recovered fully from his two-month injury-induced layoff, outlasted No. 5 Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1, 6-7 (7-5), 6-1, Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Edberg next plays the winner of the John McEnroe-Wayne Ferreira quarterfinal. Also advancing was No. 2 Jim Courier, who swept Amos Mansdorf, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Courier will face the winner of the quarterfinal between Michael Stich of Germany and Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands.

"Anytime you can get into the deep end of the second week of the Grand Slams, it's fantastic," Courier said. "I'm playing well."

On a strength-sapping, hot and muggy afternoon, Edberg raised the level of his game as the match wore on and seemed surprised to see the normally indefatigable Lendl wilt in the third and fifth sets of the 3-hour 10-minute match.

"I didn't really have too much chance in the beginning," said Edberg, who gained his first break opportunity with Lendl serving at 5-4 in the second set. Lendl made three unforced errors, all on forehands, the last one drifting long for the break.

"He gave me the chance, and from there on I played some very good tennis. I thought this was the best match for me so far."

Edberg lost only three points in six service games in the fourth set, and only four points in four service games in the fifth.

In the women's draw, 15-year-old Jennifer Capriati spoke of pressures of expectations with a trembling voice after losing to Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1).

"I'm disappointed in myself," said Capriati, whose eyes were brimming with tears after the Tuesday night defeat. "I know that people were expecting a great match. I think there is some pressure, actually a lot of pressure from everyone, maybe because it has become much more serious now. I feel it a little more."

The delight Capriati took in playing pro tennis, win or lose, since her debut as a 14-year-old had been missing since she arrived for her first Australian Open. She won her first four matches easily, all in straight sets, but showed no outward pleasure in them.

Sabatini sympathized with Capriati, recalling her own worries as a teen-ager and her thoughts about quitting tennis before she won the U.S. Open two years ago.

"I think everybody has to go through those moments," said Sabatini, who will play Mary Joe Fernandez in the semifinals. "It's something she has to work on, that's all. I had my doubts about playing tennis. I was not enjoying tennis. I just tried to keep working hard and be patient, and one day everything just started to open."

Capriati did have high points against Sabatini, reeling off 16 of 18 points during one streak in the first set for a 4-2 lead.

But the roll ended as suddenly as it began. Sabatini won the first of four straight games to take the set, volleying spectacularly and passing Capriati when she ventured to the net. In the last two games, Sabatini yielded only one point.

The streaks continued in the second set--Sabatini taking a 3-1 lead, Capriati coming back to go ahead, 4-3, after winning 13 of 14 points.

Leading 6-5, Capriati became particularly annoyed when she mis-hit an easy overhead at 0-15. Sabatini seized the opportunity and won the game with a forehand pass.

Unfortunately, the artistry ended there. Capriati played the tiebreaker as if in a daze, quickly going from bad shot to bad shot with no plan, no pause to consider what she was doing.

"It just happened so fast that I didn't know what was happening," she said. "I didn't have time to think about it."

At 6-0 and match point, she finally hit a backhand winner, but by then it was too late. Sabatini reached up for a shallow lob from Capriati and returned a backhand overhead for match point.

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