Connors pulls through in heat Needs five sets to cool off Agenor

May 30, 1991|By Andrea Leand | Andrea Leand,Special to The Sun

PARIS -- Before the French Open started, Jimmy Connors, 38, had said he wanted to be a factor, and yesterday he was, battling through the 90-degree heat and five sets to defeat Ronald Agenor, 26, of France, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 0-6, 6-4.

After pounding his way past a puzzled Agenor in the first two sets and going up, 3-1, in the third set, Connors, the oldest player in the tournament, dropped the next 11 games.

"In the fourth set, I felt out of it," Connors said. "I've never let a set go like that in my life. I tried to do too much in the third set. I was in the trenches in the fifth."

After he came back to win the center-court match, Connors threw his racket skyward in celebration.

"I don't throw my racket in the air for just anybody," he said.

Connors' victory overshadowed an improbable comeback by Boris Becker, who struggled through the first two sets before regrouping and dispatching Australian Todd Woodbridge, 5-7, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

"I have not played for weeks, so I'm not in the best shape," said Becker, who was treated for an injured right thigh during the match. "I was down when I got up this morning. I was not the same guy I was yesterday, and that made me mad. I do not want to tell too much about the leg, because I'm still in the tournament."

But he may not be for long if he continues to play as erratically as he did yesterday.

"I don't know what happened from 3-1 down in the third to 4-4 in the fifth," said Becker, who never has won a clay-court tournament. "I smelled a chance when he got nervous in the third and did not hit the ball as hard. After I won the third, I was back in the match.

"Every time I've won a Grand Slam, I've had to go through a matchlike this," he said. "I hope this is a good sign."

Tenth-seeded Michael Chang, who became inspired by his cheering section of French children, ground to a 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over Swede Lars Jonsson.

"The support I received from the kids was nice," said Chang, the 1989 French Open champion. "I know Wednesday is their day off from school, and the screaming and yelling did not bother me.

"I thought he [Jonsson] was tired in the fifth, because he started to miss a little bit more," Chang said.

Chang, who plays Connors in the next round, has won his past eight five-set matches.

Fourth-seeded Andre Agassi rolled to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Petr Korda.

Seventh-seed Guy Forget of France struggled through four sets to eliminate Jimmy Arias, but Spain lost both its seeds. Sergi Bruguera, seeded fifth, pulled out of his match with Omar Camporese with a back problem while leading two sets to one. Emilio Sanchez, the 11th seed, lost to Jakob Hlasek.

The elimination of Bruguera and Sanchez cleared the path for Agassi, who plays Patrick McEnroe in the third round. Agassi is the only remaining seed in his quarter of the draw.

Among the winning women's seeds were No. 2 Steffi Graf, No. 4 Mary Joe Fernandez and No. 5 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. Among the losers were No. 9 Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere and No. 15 Natalia Zvereva.

How they fared

Results among the top-seeded players yesterday at the

French Open:


Boris Becker (2), Germany, def. Todd Woodbridge, Australia, 5-7, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Andre Agassi (4), Las Vegas, def. Petr Korda, Czechoslovakia, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

Omar Camporese, Italy, def. Sergi Bruguera (5), Spain, 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, retired.

Guy Forget (7), France, def. Jimmy Arias, Buffalo, N.Y., 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-4).

Michael Chang (10), Placentia, Calif., def. Lars Jonsson, Sweden, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.


Steffi Graf (2), Germany, def. Petra Langrova, Czechoslovakia, 6-0, 6-1.

Mary Joe Fernandez (4), Miami, def. Sabine Hack, Germany, 6-4, 6-0.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (5), Spain, def. Kristin Godridge, Australia, 6-1, 6-2.

Regina Rajchrtova, Czechoslovakia, def. Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere (9), Switzerland, 6-4, 6-0.

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