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AUSTRALIAN OPEN : Washington Scores Upset of No. 2 Stich

January 19, 1994|From Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia — MaliVai Washington pulled off the biggest upset of the first round, defeating second-seeded Michael Stich, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

In the first round of the 1991 Australian Open, Washington squandered a two-set lead and lost to Stich. This time, the Floridian didn't let Stich off the hook.

"It actually kind of inspired me, because I wasn't going to let the two-set-to-love lead get away like it did back in '91," he said. "It didn't get me nervous or play a negative role."

Washington took advantage of repeated mistakes by Stich, a semifinalist in this tournament last year. Stich sprayed shots off the court in all directions and was forced into errors at the net by Washington's low returns.

Washington, ranked 26th in the world, lost his serve only in the third set. Although Stich is one of the best serve-and-volleyers, Washington had a better winning percentage at the net.

"It's not like he won the match," Stich said. "I gave it to him."

Stich appeared distracted at times, grumbling at line calls and fretting over several missed opportunities.

"I didn't even know the score at times. I cannot speak for my mental strength out there," Stich said. "MaliVai played a good match. He hung in there and he didn't make as many unforced errors as I made. I just played a very terrible match."

Jim Courier defeated Marcos Ondruska of South Africa, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

In the women's draw, sixth-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez, a two-time Australian Open finalist, overcame Ines Gorrochategui of Argentina, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7.

"From the beginning of the second set she started firing away," said Fernandez, who rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the final set. "I was having trouble playing aggressively because she was taking it away from me."

Chanda Rubin, a Louisiana teen-ager who mixed up her attack, upset No. 12 Amanda Coetzer, 6-1, 2-6, 6-3.

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