Italian stays Open-minded, ousts Courier

September 03, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Four months ago, when the chair umpire took a bathroom break at the French Open in the middle of his fourth-round match, Andrea Gaudenzi of Italy decided to make the most of it.

He climbed into the umpire's chair and awarded himself the match.

Well, that move didn't work. Goran Ivanisevic prevailed upon the umpire's return.

So, yesterday, caught up in a fit of nerves on Stadium Court against Jim Courier, the one-time No. 1 player who has lost his championship form, Gaudenzi, 21 and playing in his first U.S. Open, tried a different tactic.

He simply prepared himself for a fifth set to relieve the tension and eventually defeated Courier, 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, in a second-round match.

"Jim played a good first set, and if he had won that, he would have killed me," said Gaudenzi, who needed seven match points to prevail.

"When I was up 5-1 in the fourth set, I remembered the [Ivan] Lendl match from the day before, when he was up 5-0 and lost," he said. "In tennis, you never know. So I was really scared. I said to myself, 'Get ready for a fifth set and just concentrate on the next point no matter what happens.'

"And then Courier played not his best tennis, and that is why I won."

It was one of two upsets on the men's side of the draw yesterday, as No. 8 seed Andrei Medvedev lost to Karel Novacek, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

But though Gaudenzi's assessment was honest and forthright, it was not the whole story.

Gaudenzi had to overcome not only Courier, who was gaining confidence with every match point he saved, but also a crowd that was pulling for the 11th-seeded American.

When Courier fought off three match points in the seventh game of the fourth set, the crowd gave him a standing ovation, even though Gaudenzi still led 5-2.

And as the two took their changeover break, a chant of "Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim" spread around the stadium until it was a roar, much like the one in 1991 that inspired Jimmy Connors on his improbable run to the semifinals.

But Courier is no Connors, and while Connors would have urged them on, Courier seemed taken aback by the emotional outburst. He pulled to 5-3 on his serve while saving another match point and then saved two more on Gaudenzi's serve before netting a final forehand.

"Tell me how to get back to winning majors," Courier said good-naturedly. "I'm not that far away. But it's a process. I know I'm good enough, smart enough. And gosh darn it, the people like me."

And it was that support for Courier, as well as Courier himself, that Gaudenzi had to overcome.

"He got a little tentative toward the end," Courier said. "I thought if I could ever get back on serve, he might crack. But I never could."

Two weeks before the Open, Courier threw his rackets into his bag in a fit of frustration and said he had had it with tennis for a while.

"I never said how long," he said. "I said it could be one day, two days or 10 years. It turned out to be three days. So I didn't lie.

"I'm satisfied with what I did here. I worked hard last week. I'm not particularly happy going out in the second round and I didn't play particularly well, but I hung in."

Where Gaudenzi will finish, nobody knows. The 6-foot Italian turned pro in 1990 after winning the No. 1 world junior title with victories in the Italian, French and U.S. opens. Since then he has climbed to 24th in the world and last April won his first pro tour title in Monte Carlo.

But Gaudenzi said yesterday's win was his biggest victory -- not because he beat Courier, but because of where he beat him.

"When I came here in 1990, I won the juniors on Grandstand Court," he said. "After the match they asked me what would be my dream, and I said

it would be to come back and play in professional side and win on Center Court, and that is what I did today. It took me four years, but I made it."


Singles, second round Stefan Edberg (5), Sweden, def. Jeff Tarango, Manhattan Beach, Calif., 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Michael Stich (4), Germany, def. Steve Bryan, Katy, Texas, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. Todd Woodbridee, Australia, def. Mark Petchey, Britain, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Marcos Ondruska, South Africa, def. Christian Bergstrom, Sweden, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-0. Joern Renzenbrink, Germany, def. Karim Alami, Morocco, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 6-3.

Cedric Pioline, France, def. Rodolphe Gilbert, France, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. Byron Black, Zimbabwe, def. Francisco Clavet, Spain, 7-5, 1-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, def. Andrei Medvedev (8), 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Javier Frana, Argentina, def. Vincent Spadea, Boca Raton, Fla., 6-4, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5. Jonas Bjorkman, Sweden, def. Alex O'Brien, Amarillo, Texas, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.

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