Duo seals Davis Cup win for U.S. Leach-Pugh victory gives team 3-0 lead

June 16, 1991|By Richard Finn | Richard Finn,Special to The Sun

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Rick Leach and Jim Pugh, tuning up for the defense of their Wimbledon doubles title, swept Emilio Sanchez and Sergio Casal, 7-6, (8-6), 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), yesterday to give the defending champion United States an unbeatable 3-0 lead in its Davis Cup quarterfinal match with Spain.

"Everybody figured our match would be the most difficult, and to win in straight sets feels greats," said Pugh of the duo's sixth Davis Cup win without a loss.

The pair's victory matched Friday's opening-day shutouts by John McEnroe and Brad Gilbert in the singles matches.

"We were always behind and never had a chance to get ahead and get our confidence going," said Spanish captain Manuel Orantes. "We never got the feeling that we were in the match."

While the lovely International Tennis Hall of Fame grounds and its quaint stadium grass court provided an easygoing backdrop to the matches, the Spanish found the venue a deathtrap for their clay-court-bred baseline games.

"The grass was a big advantage for us," said U.S. captain Tom Gorman. "Our players are familiar with running on the grass and have developed their games with that type of running."

With only today's perfunctory final singles matches between McEnroe and Sanchez and Gilbert and Tomas Carbonell left here, the team's focus was already shifting to the Sept. 20-22 semifinal match against Boris Becker and his German teammates, to be held on an indoor court at Kemper Arena in Kansas City.

The task now is to decide on a court surface that will provide the yet-undecided squad with the best shot at beating three-time Wimbledon champion Becker. That decision has to be made within the next 15 days.

The United States has so far failed to beat Becker on clay in Hamburg, Germany, in 1985, on an indoor Supreme court in 1987 in Hartford, Conn., and then two years ago indoors in Munich.

"Becker is the consummate Davis Cup player of this time," saiGorman.

Conventional wisdom has made building a clay court, akin to the one constructed last December in the St. Petersburg Suncoast Dome to slow down Australia in the final, the frontrunner.

"It would be tough not to play on a clay court with [Jim] Courier and [Andre] Agassi making the French Open final," said Leach of last week's final on the Roland Garros clay in Paris won by Courier. "Our best players in the world are probably clay-court players."

The choice was given a backdoor endorsement by Gorman.

"Personally I don't know if a Supreme court is our best option," he said. "Obviously you have to consider Agassi and Courier."

Leach and Pugh faced one break point in the match. With Leach serving at 1-2 in the opening set, the left-hander pulled himself out of it with a forehand volley winner.

Leach survived one more crisis, serving at 4-5, 15-30 in the first set when Casal dumped an easy forehand volley into the net.

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