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U.S. OPEN / OTHER MATCHES : Sampras Avoids a Danger Spot

September 03, 1993|BILL DWYRE | TIMES SPORTS EDITOR

NEW YORK — On a day at the U.S. Open when there was one major headfirst fall and another very precarious downhill ride in the men's draw, Pete Sampras skied right along.

The silky-smooth former champion, who won this year's Wimbledon title and is seeded No. 2 in this tournament, beat a 22-year-old Czech named Daniel Vacek and cruised into the third round a couple of hours before rained-out Boris Becker could even complete the first game of his first-round match. Becker eventually rallied to win a match in which he survived a two-sets-to-love deficit and two cloudbursts over two days. Stefan Edberg, two-time defending champion, wasn't as fortunate, losing a second-round match to Karel Novacek of Czechoslovakia in four sets.

Sampras, often criticized for making it look so easy, defeated the 6-foot-3 Vacek, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), and afterward termed his opponent "dangerous."

But even with Vacek, the No. 96-ranked player in the world, serving 24 aces to Sampras' 17 and testing Sampras with a high-kicking second serve and a sharp volleying game, the rapidly maturing Sampras was in control all the way. He attacked Vacek's huge serve in the fourth-set tiebreaker with the confidence of a player who knows very well how to close out a match.

"This summer, I have lost to a couple of serve-and-volleyers," Sampras said, "so this gives me more confidence going on into the tournament."

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One of today's more interesting second-round matches will pair Mikael Pernfors against Mats Wilander. Not only will it match two Swedes who are friends and longtime residents of the United States, but Pernfors, not Wilander, will be the older player on the court, 30 to 29. And even though Wilander has won seven Grand Slam tournaments and Pernfors has as his best showing a French Open final, Pernfors has won a tournament this year and is considered the favorite against the recently inactive Wilander.

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In Wilander's dramatic first-round victory Wednesday over Jamie Oncins of Brazil, Oncins became so enraged over a line call in the third-set tiebreaker that he trashed some sideline equipment and gave the chair umpire, Tom Parma, the choke sign. Thursday, he was fined $2,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

*

In the closing stages of the Wilander-Oncins tiebreaker, with the fans in the packed stands at Court 16 on the edge of their seats, tension thick and Oncins wound as tight as a fist, the veteran Wilander looked over toward the nearby press section and asked veteran sportscaster and sportswriter Bud Collins, "What's the record?" Collins replied that Goran Ivanisevic and Daniel Nestor had just set it with their 20-18 tiebreaker an hour or so earlier. Wilander nodded and went on to finish out his at 18-16.

Afterward, thinking back to all his battles over the years with the pros, Collins said, "I should have told him 'No comment,' or maybe 'Call my agent.' "

Notes

Other seeded men advancing included No. 12 Thomas Muster of Austria, who took out Aaron Krickstein, 6-4, 6-0, 6-3, and No. 14 Alexander Volkov of Russia, who outbattled Kevin Ullyet of South Africa, 6-7 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 6-3. . . . Chuck Adams of Pacific Palisades advanced to the third round by beating Jonas Svensson of Sweden, 1-6, 6-0, 6-2, 6-1, and Thomas Enqvist of Sweden, who upset Andre Agassi in the first round, stayed alive by beating Lan Bale of South Africa, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. . . . Perhaps the best match of unseeded men pitted Pat McEnroe against Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands, with McEnroe surviving 18 of 22 break points but also needing eight match points before winning, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (7-5), 6-3. . . . Michael Chang drew the late show in the Stadium and advanced through the second round with a 6-1, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Nicolas Pereira of Venezuela. Chang is seeded No. 7, and his victory moved him into the third-round match against No. 40 Bernd Karbacher of Germany. . . . The women's side of the tournament stuck to the form sheet, with second-seeded Aranxta Sanchez Vicario and third-seeded Martina Navratilova advancing in straight sets and no seeded players losing, either in singles or doubles. Among Thursday's losers was Leila Meskhi of the Republic of Georgia, who stunned Jennifer Capriati in the first round. Meskhi lost to Katerina Maleeva, 6-1, 6-2.

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