Grabb's tough match keeps Borg up late

July 14, 1992|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Jim Grabb knows about late hours. It was only a week ago that he played until darkness fell at Wimbledon, forcing his doubles final against John McEnroe and Michael Stich to be continued to the next morning, only to lose.

Fortunately for those waiting to see Bjorn Borg play doubles last night, there are lights at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.

Grabb gathered enough energy to "tough out" the last two games and beat amateur Brian MacPhie, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, last night. Finally, Borg and his partner Niclas Kroon could take the court in the last match of the night against Gilad Bloom and Amos Mansdorf. It was 11:45, but the the majority of the 7,347 fans remained glued to their seats.

"This was a very difficult match for me," said Grabb. "When I hit the ball girl, that was one more bad thing that didn't make me interested in the match."

With the score tied 2-2 in the second set, Grabb smashed a ball in frustration and it hit the ball girl full between the eyes.

"It shouldn't have happened, and I felt terrible," he said. "After that, I was just hanging in there. Then I got a couple good serves in the third set and I was able to get through it."

In the second round, he will meet another college kid, Alex O'Brien, who has turned pro since winning the 1992 NCAA individual, doubles and team titles with Stanford.

Grabb, who has practiced with O'Brien many times, said he will try his best to inspire himself.

"I need a little time away," Grabb said. "I know it sounds like TC snotty thing to say, when you look at the money and the chance you've been given to make money. But everyone gets worn out and tired, when they do the same thing too much."

He has not been home in 11 weeks, and as exciting as Wimbledon was, it sapped his strength.

"Obviously, winning the title would have been better than losing it 19-17," Grabb said. "But getting to that final is a lot better than anything else I've ever done in my career."

Because of that and because of the tiredness he admits too, he is not feeling any pressure against O'Brien.

"O'Brien is young, but he's also a pro now," says Grabb, 28. "He's trying to make money and improve his ranking. I'm far enough along and done enough that winning or losing a match against Alex O'Brien is not going to make me or break me."

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