At long last, Krajicek tops Martin

September 06, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Neither is known for playing long points or long matches. Though Richard Krajicek and Todd Martin did not completely reverse form in their third-round match yesterday, they nearly rewrote history at the U.S. Open.

When the smoke cleared on the Grandstand Court at the National Tennis Center, after five hours and 10 minutes of booming serves and blistering ground strokes, the 10th-seeded Krajicek had come back the brink of elimination to defeat Martin, 6-7 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (11-9) 6-4, 6-4.

It was believed to be the second-longest match in Open history, 12 minutes shy of last year's semifinal between Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang. Krajicek fought off two match points in the third-set tiebreaker and finally wore down Martin in the fifth set.

"I lucked out a little bit, was very lucky actually in the third-set tiebreaker," said Krajicek, 21, of the Netherlands. "I was quite lucky to come out of there alive, or as the first one."

Said Martin, a fast-rising 23-year-old American now ranked 17th, "I was two inches away from being at 5-4 [in the third set]. I am serving a lot of pressure on him, and that is what it comes down to. Today he just hit the right shots at the right time."

Each player had the same number of points (193), but Krajicek's 24 aces, including on the last two points, were the difference.

"I think because, knowing that I have the serve even if I don't play as good as I want to, then I still have the feeling like as long as I hold my serve I am in there," said Krajicek. "The serve is pretty important. It makes me feel good going against good players, even if they are in good shape. As long as they don't break me, they cannot beat me."

Martin converted only three of 11 break chances -- Krajicek was even less effective, breaking his opponent just four times in 20 opportunities -- and was broken at 4-all in the fifth set. A service winner, a slam dunk overhead smash and the two aces ended Martin's run in the Open.

In the quarterfinals, Krajicek will play 19-year-old Russian Andrei Medvedev, who beat Karsten Braasch 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

Krajicek and Martin might have set unofficial Open history as the two tallest players ever to share the same court: Krajicek is 6 feet 5, Martin is 6-6. And they went to great lengths to provide the crowd with more than five of hours of big hits and drama.

"I had a terrific time," said Martin. "It was a beautiful day. I played two very good sets and five pretty good sets. It was just a matter of a shot here or there and I could have been doing this [talking to the press] three hours ago."

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