Once again, Courier vs. Edberg

January 30, 1993|By New York Times News Service

MELBOURNE, Australia -- No surprise here: No. 1 Jim Courier and No. 2 Stefan Edberg will play today in the men's final at the Australian Open.

"The last time we played here, he was the underdog," said Edberg, who lost in four sets to Courier in last year's final. "This year, it will be a little different. I will be the underdog. He is the No. 1 player in the world."

Courier advanced by defeating Michael Stich of Germany, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-2. Stich won the battle of the service speed gun but could not match the American's relentless consistency from the baseline and regular brilliance on service returns.

"I'm playing above average," Courier said. "Above my average."

Edberg had to default from a doubles match last week because of a back spasm and is still receiving extensive treatment daily. But the injury has had little effect on the Swede's performance in his past three matches. Yesterday, he rallied in the first and third sets to defeat third seed Pete Sampras of the United States, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

It remains to be seen whether Courier can successfully defend his title, and if so, whether he will take a second victory dip in the picturesque yet environmentally unsound Yarra River.

"We're thinking of diving from a bridge this year," Courier's coach, Brad Stine, said jokingly.

Courier had a different response: "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

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