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Rubin Calmly Dispatches Sanchez Vicario : Tennis: Louisiana teen-ager's 6-3, 6-1 upset puts her into today's final against Conchita Martinez at Manhattan Beach.


Someone needs to check Chanda Rubin for a pulse. The 19-year-old from Lafayette, La., has been breezing though the field at the Acura Classic in Manhattan Beach with such ease that she ought to be dizzy, or least have an elevated heart rate.

Instead, Rubin has remained nonplussed in victory. So it was Saturday as she upset world No. 2 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-3, 6-1.

In the other semifinal, Conchita Martinez defeated Yayuk Basuki, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4). Martinez, seeded second, will face Rubin, seeded 10th, in today's final at 2 p.m. at Manhattan Country Club.

Rubin has remained true to her philosophy of playing each point and each match at a time, maintaining focus. This may be uninspired as a catchy maxim, but is effective in practice.

Rubin was stoic after defeating Gabriela Sabatini in the quarterfinals and remained smiling but calm after her victory Saturday. Sanchez Vicario is the highest-ranked player Rubin has ever beaten and, with the bonus points that accompany such a victory, she's assured of a ranking of at least No. 16 on Monday.

Saturday's match was Rubin's first here that hasn't gone three sets. She gained some rest for today's final by staying on the court only 66 minutes on a warm afternoon.

Seldom is Sanchez Vicario dispatched in such quick fashion. In fact, Rubin's style invokes Sanchez Vicario's in her brisk and efficient manner and in her unquenchable optimism. Neither player is capable of giving up on a point--indeed, Sanchez Vicario has based a career on her terrier-like intensity to chase every ball.

Rubin is developing along the same lines.

"I attacked well today," Rubin said. "I had a game plan in mind. I executed it as well as I could have. I wanted to get to the net, I wanted to use my forehand."

Sanchez Vicario agreed, noting Rubin's masterful play while acknowledging her own uncharacteristic lack of pep.

"I think I was a little bit off today," she said. "I made a lot of mistakes. I wasn't going as fast to the ball. Chanda played great--she hit the ball hard and moved in when she had a chance. It's been a bad day for me. Nothing worked on my side. I wasn't moving well. I was really off. I served badly. . . . Hopefully, I can forget about it."

When she shuffles through her memories of the match, Sanchez Vicario should dwell on the early portion. She broke Rubin in the third game and held to go up 3-1. She should skip the rest, for it was the last service game Sanchez Vicario would hold in the match--she was broken six consecutive times.

Even up 3-0 in the second set, Rubin was mindful of Sanchez Vicario's ability to scramble off the edge of a precipice.

"It could have gotten away from me at any time," she said.

It did, briefly, in the next game. Rubin double-faulted to give Sanchez Vicario triple break point, a gift that the Spaniard cashed in on two points later. Rubin, whose focus rarely ebbed during the match, may have been guilty of trying to get to the match over with too quickly.

"It was a disappointment," she said. "A lousy service game. I kind of rushed."

The end rushed up anyway, thankfully for Sanchez Vicario, who seemed relieved to have been put out of her misery.

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