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MEN'S TENNIS : Krajicek Wants Play, Not Seeding, Remembered

August 02, 1994|WENDY WITHERSPOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Richard Krajicek is the two-time defending champion of the Los Angeles Open, but is seeded fifth in this year's 32-player draw.

Only two other players have won the tournament three consecutive times, Don Budge and Fred Perry, both members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

If Krajicek is on the verge of joining such an elite group, why was he seeded so low?

"I don't know what I am supposed to think of that," Krajicek said. "It means that the rest of the year I didn't make as many good results as I should have."

Seedings are based on rankings from the ATP tour and Krajicek is currently 25th. Players seeded ahead of Krajicek in the tournament are Michael Chang, ranked sixth, Boris Becker, ranked 11th, Andre Agassi, ranked 15th, and Alexander Volkov, who fell three spots to No. 27 in the rankings this week, after the seedings had been completed. So tournament organizers had no choice but to seed Krajicek fifth.

But Krajicek showed Monday that despite his low seeding, L.A. is his turf.

Krajicek defeated Michael Joyce, 7-6 (7-1), 6-1, in a first-round match at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.

Once the 6-foot-5, big-serving Krajicek got his serve warmed up, he shot 11 aces past 172nd-ranked Joyce, a wild-card entry.

For Joyce, the experience of playing a feature night match at the tournament was a little intimidating. Just last year, Joyce got nervous hitting in between-match exhibitions with junior players on the stadium court at night.

Joyce, who attended St. Monica High, was a finalist in the boys 18-and-under division at Wimbledon in 1991, but found playing before his hometown crowd even more difficult.

"It's very nice when you play well, but it can be terrible when you play bad," Joyce said.

Joyce maintained his poise trailing, 6-5, in the first set by holding serve to force the tiebreaker. From there, however, Joyce had difficulty staying close to Krajicek.

"He impressed me more with the rest of his game than with his serve," Joyce said. "If you're 6-5, you should serve big."

Krajicek used a dominating forehand, covered the net well and moved around the court well despite knee problems.

He hopes the magic that he has found in Los Angeles the past two years continues.

"The people are very nice, the weather is always nice and you have a lot of good restaurants," Krajicek said.

There is the possibility that Krajicek could meet Chang in the semifinals, which would be a rematch of last year's final. Despite having a difficult time against Chang last year--Krajicek lost the first seven games in an 0-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) victory--Krajicek remained upbeat about the possibility of a rematch.

"I hope I play him in the semis because it means I (will have reached) the semis," Krajicek said.

In another first-round match Bryan Shelton of Atlanta, Ga., had three match points against Volkov, but could not capitalize. The Russian rallied to win, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (9-7), 6-3.

"I think that's about as frustrating as it gets," Shelton said.

L.A. Open Notes

Monday's attendance was 7,004. . . . A security guard did not immediately recognize Boris Becker and prevented him from entering the locker room after noticing that Becker did not have a proper pass.

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