Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
When the eight-man World Championship of Tennis (WCT) finals began Tues-night at Moody Coliseum, half of the field were foreigners. In Friday's semifinals, there will be only Americans.
Vitas Gerulaitis, the youngest of the group at age 22, defeated Wojtek Fibak of Poland Thursday night, 1-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, 6-3, in a match that was less inspiring than the score might suggest.
He will play Dick Stockton, winner of three tournaments and the point leader in the "World Series of Tennis" tournament circuit that qualified the top eight finishers for the finals.
Stockton completed an absorbing 7-5, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 victory over Cliff Drysdale, 25-year-old South African, now an adopted Texan, shortly after midnight.
Jimmy Connors, who beat Adriano Panatta of Italy in the opener Tuesday, and Eddie Dibbs, the No. 2 ranked American who upset Rumanian Ilie Nastase on Wednesday, meet in the other semi.
Gerulaitis, the brash New Yorker whose father was three time champion of Lithuania (1938-39-40), started miserably. He was flat, sluggish and heavy-legged the first two sets.
He usual strengths, speed and his forehand, deserted him. He was spraying his forehand shots all over the arena, especially on service returns, and never seemed on top of the ball.
Meanwhile, Fibak, the engaging 24-year-old Pole, played superbly after scraping through the first two games. He made Gerulaitis pay for some indiscriminate approaches with wonderful backhand passing shots and was hitting the ball solidly, confidently, even serenely, both off the ground and on the volley.
From the fourth game of the first set through the end of the second, Fibak lost only six points in seven service games.He seemed in complete control and looked as if he would close out the match before most of the late-arriving crowd of 8,674 settled into their seats.
But Gerulaitis held his serve to open the third set, and Fibak lost his for the first time in the next game, after having one advantage point.
Fibak served his first two double-faults in this game, the second bringing him to break point for the third time. He then raked a backhand into the net, unforced, signaling a slide of seven straight games.
Suddenly Gerulaitis seemed to gain the spring in his legs quickness in both reflexes and spirit, that he had lacked earlier. Meanwhile, Fibak started unraveling like a cheap Hong Kong shirt. He tried to pull the strings back together, but they came undone in a jumble.
Stockton, another New York native who now lives in Carrollton, Tex., was expected to have an easy time against Drysdale, who had practiced only 45 minutes since Tuesday because he had bronchitis. He was given medical approval to play only Thursday morning.
But the tall, suave, former South African Davis Cup player, who now lives at Lakeway, Tex, served and volleyed well, blistered Stockton repeatedly with his two-fisted backhand, and hung in with a grace and grit befitting a popular elder statesman.
A few overly casual shots eventually cost the good-humored Drysdale, who had the upset-minded crowed squarely behind him. He blew a little forehand sitter to fall set point down in the first set, and played three sloppy shots in losing the pivotal third set tie-breaker, 7 points to 2.