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Chang to Face a Tall Order : Tennis: He defeats Adams, but now gets Krajicek, who overpowered top-ranked Sampras to gain final.

August 08, 1993|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For the literary minded, presenting the tall tale versus the short story, or 6-foot-5 Richard Krajicek against 5-foot-8 Michael Chang.

Here's the book on the Volvo/Los Angeles final: Can a power-hungry big hitter in a baseball cap get his serves past a ball machine in blue sneakers?

Could be. Separating Krajicek from back-to-back titles is Chang, who made short work of Chuck Adams, 6-3, 6-2, in the semifinals Saturday night at UCLA.

Chang had three aces, saved each of the four break points he faced and won in 1 hour 32 minutes.

"It wasn't as easy as the scoreboard indicated," Chang said.

The scoreboard accurately portrayed a difficult afternoon semifinal for Krajicek, who delivered 10 aces and scored a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3) victory over a frustrated Pete Sampras.

"I'll get over it," Sampras said.

At the same time, Krajicek hopes for a quick recovery for his sore left knee that bothered him in the third set.

How bad was the knee?

"If I would feel the same way tomorrow as I do today, I'll be in trouble," said Krajicek, who blamed tendinitis.

Chang's mission is to try to keep Krajicek on the move and stand up to the withering serves sent his way. The matchup of contrasting styles probably won't produce many surprises, Chang said.

"He knows I'm going to run down a few balls," he said. "I know he's going to hit a few big serves."

For a period in the third set against Sampras, Krajicek said he couldn't stand on his left leg. Fortunately for him, there was nothing wrong with his right arm. He mashed the ace of the tournament, straight down the middle of the court to set up match point in the tiebreaker.

Krajicek said he hit a fastball.

"I gave it all I got," he said. "It would have been a ticket on the freeway, I think."

Sampras chose a bad time for a bad spell. That would be the tiebreaker, which is not destined to go down as one of his finer moments.

He double-faulted to give Krajicek one mini-break at 2-0, slapped a forehand into the net for another at 4-2, watched Krajicek crack a first-serve cross-court return for a clean winner for 5-2, endured a blistering ace by Krajicek for 6-3 and shoveled a forehand wide to end it after 1 hour 52 minutes.

Afterward, Sampras wished he could have come up big at the right time.

"It was a matter of a couple of points," he said. "I just didn't get them today. Hopefully my tennis will get better in the next couple of weeks."

Sampras, who had nine aces and four double faults, couldn't score consistently on his usually reliable second serve. Krajicek handled it with regularity, winning nearly half of the points on Sampras' second serves.

For that, Sampras blamed Krajicek. The problem was that Krajicek failed to produce a groove that Sampras felt comfortable with.

"It's not like I was getting a lot of rhythm out there," Sampras said. "He's kind of a hit-and-miss player and you only get so many chances.

"You try to get a rhythm out there and you really can't."

It was not so much as strategy as it was just playing his own style, Krajicek said, so there really wasn't anything to apologize about.

As for Sampras being the No. 1-ranked player, Krajicek seemed somewhat underwhelmed: "It's another one on the board."

After two sets, each player had one on the board. When Sampras popped a forehand volley wide, Krajicek broke for 4-3 in the first set and closed it out after 34 minutes when he hit the line with a volley winner on set point.

Sampras got even, breaking Krajicek in the third game with a chilling first-serve return that Krajicek couldn't handle. Sampras served two aces for 4-1 and won the second set with a volley winner into the open court.

Only one game went as far as deuce in the third set. That was the fifth game, when Krajicek's left knee started giving him trouble, but Sampras couldn't take advantage of it. He missed two makeable returns and Krajicek held serve.

"Maybe he started adjusting too much," said Krajicek. "That's what gave me courage and I thought I still had a chance."

Tennis Notes

Chuck Adams' 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 quarterfinal victory over Michael Stich ended at 12:28 a.m. Saturday before a crowd of about 500. Adams didn't offer any sympathy to Stich, the No. 6-ranked player, who grew increasingly angry as the pro-Adams crowd cheered loudly for the Pacific Palisades 22-year-old. Said Adams: "He was annoyed because I was kicking his butt." Stich said he had asked not to play at night and blamed the ATP for "bad judgment" and "a lack of respect.". . . . . . Grant Connell and Scott Davis ended Jim Pugh's quest to win a third consecutive doubles title with three different partners. Connell and Davis defeated Brad Pearce and Pugh, 6-3, 6-7 (7-4), 6-3.

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