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Krajicek Survives New York Marathon : U.S. Open: He outlasts Martin in 5 hours 10 minutes. Becker wins easily, but Wilander is knocked out by Pioline.

September 06, 1993|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Things you can do in 5 hours 10 minutes:

--Fly from Los Angeles to New York.

--Play a round of golf and hit the 19th hole hard.

--Drive to the video store, rent "The Longest Day"--and watch it twice.

--Clean and dry your living room carpet.

--Watch Richard Krajicek play a third-round match Sunday at the U.S. Open.

The only thing longer than Krajicek's 6-7 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (11-9), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Todd Martin was the line at the concession stands, where tennis fans could have ordered lunch, a snack and an early dinner during the time it took for Krajicek to play his match.

Afterward, Krajicek, seeded 10th, considered himself, well, sort of fortunate.

"I was lucky to come out of there alive," he said.

Actually, he was right. Krajicek saved two match points and could have made it a lot easier on himself because he certainly had a load of chances to do so.

Instead, Krajicek connected on only four of 20 break-point opportunities and dragged himself into a fourth-round showdown with Andrei Medvedev on a less than exhilarating level.

"I think it can be pretty interesting," Krajicek said.

Meanwhile, the rest of the day was littered with pretty routine matches. Principal among them were the advancement of Boris Becker and the demise of old-timer Mats Wilander, who for better or worse represented the tournament's big story lines so far.

Becker, who came from two sets down to win his first-round match, had a considerably easier time in disposing of 158th-ranked Sergio Cortes of Chile, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

Afterward, Becker was asked to assess his own game.

"The serve and volley is working pretty good," said Becker, who plays Magnus Larsson in the fourth round.

Not much of Wilander's game was working. The day after he pulled his night owl act and finished off Mikael Pernfors at 2:26 a.m., Wilander sleepwalked through a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 loss to 15th-seeded Cedric Pioline.

As his dubious reward, Pioline gets to play top-seeded Jim Courier in the fourth round. Courier pounded Mal Washington under the lights, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

In light of what happened to him, Wilander said he might have played better under different circumstances.

"I think it was just missing a night's sleep was the hardest thing, but that is the U.S. Open, I guess."

Becker had 11 aces, but he also hit eight double faults, had only 58% of his first serves go in and had more unforced errors than winners.

None of it mattered, maybe because Becker knows what it takes to win a title here, a feat he accomplished in 1990.

"It is probably the most difficult to win of all four (Grand Slam events) because, I must say, you have the crowd here, you have the heat here, you have noise here, whereas in the other three, those three things you don't have that much, I would say.

"And the court evens the game very much. You can serve and volley, you can also stay back and win it from there. I guess those, you know, things make it so difficult for everybody."

It was not only difficult for Martin, it was impossible, even though he won the first two sets and held two match points in the third set.

Krajicek saved one match point with a service winner on a second serve and rescued the other when Martin knocked the return about six inches wide.

"That is just the way it goes," Martin said.

As usual, the way it went for Krajicek depended on his serve. He blasted 24 aces, and although he mixed in 16 double faults, he still won 82% of his first-serve points.

"You win this, you never know what happens," Krajicek said.

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