Victor Amaya aced Ivan Lendl yesterday in the final of the Volvo Tennis Classic.
Twenty-eight times. And when Amaya rifled the 28th missile serve past Lendl in the last game of the third set, someone in the crowd called out, "It's a swing and a miss!"
One unreturnable serve later, the 20-year-old Czech was out of the match, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5. It was Amaya's first win ever in the United States.
Amaya, 25, of Louisville, who earned $21,875 for winning the tournament, said, "When you are serving for the set and the match, it's always nice to start off the game with three straight aces."
Actually, it was two aces and two service winners, but who's quibbling?
Lendl, who came ever so close to winning his first Grand Prix tournament since joining the circuit in 1979, looked more wan than usual afterward. "It is surprising, if you almost won and then lose," he said. "I played okay. He just played well."
Lendl received a $10,938 check for his labor.
In the course of the 2 hour 11 minute match, both players lost their tempers, as well as their rackets.
And in the first game of the first set, Amaya lost his serve (Lendl won the toss and elected to receive). Amaya broke back later in the set, but lost in the tie breaker, 7-5."I wasn't nervous," he said. "He hit some good shots and I missed some approach shots at 5-4."
Amaya, whose game is serve and volley, was living by the serve but dying by the volley.
"My serve was working okay in the first set but he was returning well," he said. "I felt I would have to volley well to win. That's what changed in the last sets, I volleyed a lot better behind the serve. I had to get a lot of returns at the feet and pick up a lot of balls."
Lendl broke Amaya's serve in the fourth game of the second set to go up, 3-1, when Amaya volleyed the last two points into the net. But then things began to change.
"I changed my strategy, coming in behind his serve more," Amaya said. "I thought I would be able to rally with him more and pick and choose the times to come in. But I decided to force the play more.
"When he was up, 3-1, in the second, I caught him a little by surprise and got two breaks using that strategy." Serving at break point, leading, 3-1, Lendl, who now is basically a baseline player, decided to come in after his serve.
"I used to come in after everything," he said Saturday, but "now everyone can pass."
Sure enough the first time he came in against Amaya, on break point, Amaya passed him with backhand down the line.
Amaya, who had never met Lendl in tournament, broke him again on his next service, winning four consecutive points, and attacking on every one. Amaya, who was ranked 21st in the world before this tournament, ran out the set, 6-4.
The third set remained even through the first six games. With Lendl serving at 3-3, he double-faulted twice and committed two unforced errors to lose the game. Lendl said he had not lost his concentration, but "was aware of him coming in on my second serve."
Amaya held serve to go up, 5-3. But when he served for the match two games later, shaky volleying again got the better of him. With Amaya down, 30-40, Lendl hit two consecutive backhand cross-court winners, and let out an unmistakable hoot.
He was back in the match. But not for long. Lendl went down, 0-30, on his serve with along backhand volley. On the next point, he served an ace. Amaya thought it was also long and spit at the court in disgust (he was later fined $250 instead of the usual $500 when he publicly apologized to the line judge).
But his temper did not last. Lendl fought back to 30-40 with another ace, but lost the game, and ultimately the match, by netting an easy volley.
To say that Amaya held serve in the last game is an understatement: he bear-hugged it.Two aces and two service winners took the life and the breath away from Lendl.
Amaya, who was the runner-up two weeks ago in Denver, will take two weeks off. "I've played 13 of the last 15 weeks" he said. "I'm going to stay home, relax and take out the garbage."
In the doubles final, the unseeded team of Brian Teacher and Ferdi Taygan defeated unseeded Kevin Curren and Steve Denton, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6. Teacher and Taygan, who won the match on a third-set tie breaker, 8-6, will split the $6,562 first-place prize.
Curren and Denton, who played together at the University of Texas, eliminated top-seeded Stan Smith and Bob Lutz in a semifinal match on Saturday. They will share the $3,937 second-place prize.
Teacher and Taygan, who played together at UCLA, reached the semi-finals in doubles twice before in 1980.