Lendl needs no flash to improve his picture Steady game stops Ivanisevic in 4 sets

September 02, 1991|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Sun Staff Correspondent

NEW YORK -- Ivan Lendl is not into entertainment. He does not pump his fist or play to the crowd. His idea of a splendid afternoon of tennis is to stand at the baseline and hit ground stroke after tedious ground stroke until his opponent collapses from exhaustion or boredom.

But give him credit. While thousands flee Louis Armstrong in search of a $4.50 slice of pizza, Lendl wins.

Yesterday, he was matched against a human serve named Goran Ivanisevic in the fourth round of the U.S. Open. For 3 hours and 30 minutes on a bright, cool day, Lendl dished out his version of tennis torture and finally won, 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-2.

The victory moved Lendl into the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the 10th straight year. He'll face Michael Stich, the Wimbledon champion, who outlasted Derrick Rostagno, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4).

Also reaching the quarterfinals was No. 2 Stefan Edberg, who defeated Michael Chang, 7-6 (7-1), 7-5, 6-3. Edberg will meet Javier Sanchez, who defeated Gabriel Markus, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Sanchez's older brother, Emilio, and sister, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, will play fourth-round singles matches today.

"I feel if I play my best tennis I have a very good chance -- I should beat everyone," said Lendl, the three-time champion and eight-time finalist.

He had a difficult time against Ivanisevic, the No. 12 seed from Yugoslavia. Ivanisevic slammed 21 aces and splattered forehands all over the court. But Lendl took all the body blows and kept on swinging.

"Goran is still not consistent at all," Lendl said. "He smacks the hell out of the ball and if they go in, you've got full hands."

Ivanisevic gave everyone trouble yesterday. He argued with the chair umpire. He glared at a linesman who called him for a foot fault. He stalked Lendl.

"I played too defensive to beat him," Ivanisevic said. "You cannot beat him like that. I had pain and I could not serve very well.

"Yeah, I had pain back, I could not serve. I started to feel very big pain. I started to throw the ball lower. Every time I throw harder, I have unbelievable pain."

Still, Ivanisevic played on. He refused to budge from the baseline, not exactly a smart tactic against Lendl.

"You can not wait for Lendl mistake -- he is never missing," Ivanisevic said. "I was not doing anything from the back. I was waiting, waiting, waiting until I was dead."

Don't expect Stich to stand on the baseline against Lendl. The German lives at the net, a 6-foot-2 windmill who clubs volleys. He has struggled at the Open, but has learned how to play the big points as well as any champion.

"You never feel comfortable when you don't get the rhythm for your game, when you can't play the game how you wanted to play it," Stich said. "I never get that feeling like I am playing well, that I am really enjoying being out there and just hitting the ball. It is always more like hard work. You have to fight for every point just to try to win a single game."

Rostagno, who manages to spring upsets in Grand Slam events, also was disappointed with his play. He woke up expecting to play in hot, humid weather and instead was greeted by a gust of unseasonably cool air.

"It was pretty much like a dream," he said. "I didn't wake up. It was like a nice California morning."

Although Stich is struggling, Rostagno said he has the ability to win another Grand Slam title.

"He has a big serve," Rostagno said. "He has a tremendous backhand. All-around, I can't pin-point one shot. He's just playing very well."

But is Stich playing well enough to beat Lendl here -- practically in Lendl's Greenwich, Conn., back yard?

"For me, I think Stich will win," Ivanisevic said. "He is coming in all the time. But that is just my opinion."

Stich, tired after a long summer of playing and growing accustomed to being the Wimbledon champion, said his goal all along at the Open was to reach the quarterfinals.

"Who knows what will happen now?" he said. "To win the championship, you only have to win three more matches."

But to win the Open, Stich will have to get by Lendl.

"I'm not looking at him as a Wimbledon champion," Lendl said. "I'm looking at him as another opponent."

Uh-oh. Sounds like more tennis torture is headed for Flushing Meadow.

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