Becker discovers being too calm can be upsetting U.S OPEN

September 08, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- An unnerving calm came over Boris Becker yesterday. It was an unusual feeling for Becker to have going into a fourth-round match at the U.S. Open, and it seemed to carry over into the first two sets last night against Magnus Larsson of Sweden.

"I am usually always a little tense, a little nervous, but today I was very calm, almost flat out there," Becker said. "I lost a tennis match because in the first two sets, I didn't play any tennis out there. After one hour and 10 minutes, I was down 3-6, 2-6, and I didn't know what happened. A train hit me or something."

Or just a middle-level player in the middle of a hot run. After losing the third set and falling behind in fourth set, Larsson, 23, sustained the hit and then went on to a 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 defeat of the No. 4 seed Becker. It marked the second straight fourth-round exit for the 1991 champion.

"To beat Becker in a Grand Slam that he won before, it is just great," said Larsson, who had never made it past the third round in his previous two Opens. "Nothing compares to this, for sure."

The victory by Larsson, ranked 60th in the world, turned the top half of the men's draw into a virtualland of wasted seeds. The highest-ranked player in that half of the draw is No. 8 Andrei Medvedev of the Ukraine, followed by No. 15 Cedric Pioline, No. 24 Wally Masur and then Larsson.

"It is so close between the good players and the guys in the top 50 or 60," Larsson said.

Still, when Becker came back to win the fourth set and take an early 2-0 lead and have break point for 3-0, everyone in the stadium figured that he would come back. After all, Becker has a history of coming back to win after being down two sets to love, having done it eight times.

Even Larsson saw an ominous sign when he looked up after going up a break in the fourth set to see an airplane flying overhead. "I looked up and thought to myself, I could be on that plane tomorrow," Larsson told a group of Swedish reporters.

After watching a break point at 2-0, 30-40 slip away, Becker never got another chance. After Larsson held serve to go ahead 6-5, and getting another break point at 30-40, he hit a deep forehand that Becker couldn't return.

Asked how he felt, Becker said, "More made for having a big chance here. All the so-called top seeds are out. I had a chance to go all the way and I blew it."

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