Krickstein turns up the heat WIMBLEDON

July 01, 1995|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,London Bureau of The Sun

WIMBLEDON, England -- Seven of the most terrifying words a tennis player can hear are:

You're going five sets with Aaron Krickstein.

Yesterday, with the courtside temperature soaring to a record 106.5 degrees, with Wimbledon's famed grass baked to the consistency of concrete, with spectators rushing for the cover of shade, Krickstein had some poor guy named Tomas Carbonell running around like a puppet on a string.

Krickstein wasn't even sweating. Carbonell looked as if he had just gone through a car wash. Krickstein kept the ball in the middle of the court. Carbonell tried to hit winners just to get out of the sun.

Finally, Krickstein delivered one last merciful blow to win the 27th fifth-set match of his career, 6-7 (2-7), 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

"Fifth sets are mental," Krickstein said. "It's how you portray yourself out there. After 3 hours, I'm not going to lay down."

Krickstein gained Wimbledon's round of 16 with three other Americans who survived the heat.

No. 2 Pete Sampras struggled with his serve in the first set but defeated Jared Palmer, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

No. 14 Todd Martin overcame Derrick Rostagno, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

And Michael Joyce, a former USTA boys champion who recently recovered from mononucleosis, continued his advance out of the qualifying round by beating Britain's Chris Wilkinson, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. Joyce even had to take on the crowd, ignoring the cry of a fan who shouted "Miss it" while he was taking aim at an overhead.

It could have been worse.

"Ever played in south Brazil?" said Joyce, a Hollywood kid whose parents are film producers and who likes to be compared with Rocky.

Back to Krickstein, who lathered on sun block and went out at high noon like a guy who was taking a walk on an autumn day.

"It felt like Australia out there," Krickstein said. "Dry heat. No wind. The sun was intense."

Carbonell was in a lot of trouble. Krickstein is the king of five-setters. He hangs around the baseline for what seems like days. "I only go to the net to shake hands," he said.

And he plays his relentless topspin game, making the other guy do all the running and all the working. He's sort of a poor-man's Jimmy Connors, good enough to hang around in big tournaments, but not quite good enough to win Grand Slams.

"I never try to lose the first or second set so I can stay out there for four hours," Krickstein said. "I thought he was tired after the fourth already. The guy's head was down. The more of these I win, the more they talk about me in the locker room."

After playing for 3 hours, 15 minutes, he was off to lift weights.

Only the strongest are going to last long at this year's Wimbledon. Yesterday wasn't fit for mad dogs or Englishmen. Pale skin burned. Players suffered cramps. One, Britain's Shirli-Ann Siddall, even passed out during a mixed doubles match.

And the courts were a wreck.

The image of Wimbledon is of beautiful people roaming around grounds dotted with lush lawns. But the reality is that this place doesn't handle heat well. They could market dead grass as an official Wimbledon souvenir.

"Miserable," is how Rostagno described the weather and the courts. "They could have watered the courts."

And Martin said the officials of the All England Club have only themselves to blame. Instead of monkeying around with trying to deflate the tennis balls to slow the game, he said they could have done everyone a favor by letting the grass grow long and applying a lot more water at night.

"In the little lawn-mowing experience that I have, the shorter you cut the grass, the easier it dies, which is going to make it quick," Martin said.

Quick? These courts are now like linoleum.

Greg Rusedski, the kid from Canada who now plays for his adopted Britain, blasted 36 aces to defeat Olivier Delaitre, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3). Rusedski tossed shirts and towels to the crowd and then waltzed around Court 1 wearing a Union Jack bandanna.

He's a pretty popular guy in England.

No. 4 Goran Ivanisevic had, by his standards, a merely adequate serving day -- only 22 aces. But he blitzed Arnaud Boetsch, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

The results set up a bunch of intriguing fourth-round matches.

Krickstein will now encounter No. 6 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-4 winner over Alexander Volkov. Martin will now match serves with Ivanisevic. Joyce will plays Shuzo Matsuoka, a five-set winner over Javier Frana.

And, in the main event, Rusedski will take on Sampras.

K? Week one is nearly over. And Wimbledon is hotter than ever.

Men's singles, third round

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