Last-quarter touchdowns by backup ed tennis player last year, took less than two hours to defeat Brian Gottfried, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, yesterday to win the final of the $200,000 Grand Prix tournament in London's Wembley Arena.

In regaining the title he lost last year to Jimmy Connors, McEnroe won the event for the fourth time in five years. The victory was worth $38,000.

McEnroe, tuning up for the United States' Davis Cup final against France at Grenoble in two weeks, took command in the fourth game. In tournaments and Davis Cup play, McEnroe has not lost a set since the U.S. Open in September, when he was beaten by Connors in the final. Bjorn Borg has beaten him in a challenge event.

"I must be close to playing the best tennis of my career," McEnroe said. "At any rate, I feel I am potentially at my best for the year ahead" . . .

In the States yesterday, Connors defeated Borg, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, in an exhibition at the Seattle Center Coliseum.

The winner picked up $75,000 and the loser $25,000, but neither would talk to reporters after the match because, they said, there was not enough publicity leading up to the nationally televised event.

Boxing: In his first public appearance since he was helped from the ring after Friday night's brutal beating by Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello indicated at a Miami news conference that he would fight Pryor again.

"My soul is hurt, because I wanted to give the title to Florida, to Miami," said Arguello, several stitches around his badly swollen left eye following the WBA junior welterweight title bout. "But maybe next time."

Basketball: Arvidas Sabonis, age 17 and 7-foot-2, scored 25 points as the Soviet Union, getting a 10-point advantage at the free throw line, beat Indiana University, 87-77, in an exhibition game at Bloomington, Ind. The Soviets are 5-1 on U.S. tour . . .

Virginia, last year's regular- season champion, is an overwhelming choice to repeat as Atlantic Coast Conference champion in voting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association.

The Cavaliers received 752 points, polling 87 first-place votes. Defending national champion North Carolina was second with 666, drawing eight first-places.

North Carolina State was chosen third, 562; Maryland fourth, 381, followed by Wake Forest 357, Duke 314, Clemson 274 and Georgia Tech 114.

College Football: Michigan State will relieve Muddy Waters, who became Spartan football coach at age 57 in 1980, of the job following next week's closer with Iowa and reassign him to other duties in the athletic department the remaining two years on his contract. Waters, up from a long small-college coaching career, produced 3-8, 5-6 and current 2-8 records at alma mater MSU.

Temple's Wayne Hardin, 55, declared, "It just seems like it's time," and said he will give up coaching at season's end. Hardin, who coached Navy to a 38-22-2 record 1959-64, is 80-51-3 since 1970 at Temple.

Golf: Scott Hoch won the $300,000 Pacific Masters in Gotemba, Japan, by three strokes, earning $65,000 and a new car.

Hoch, 26, shot 10-under-par 278 over 72 holes.

Hoch, who started the final round one shot behind leader Wayne Levi, sank four birdies for a three-under 69 over the 7,111-yard Taiheiyo Golf Club course. Masahiro Kuramoto, the Japan PGA champion, closed with 71 and finished second; Levi took 75 and shared third with Calvin Peete at 283. Lee Elder tied for fifth.

Baseball: The Milwaukee Brewers have fired their third base coach, Harry Warner, and replaced him with Dave Garcia, recent manager of the Cleveland Indians, the Milwaukee Journal reported. The Journal said Garcia would replace Warner at third base and Pat Dobson, who filled in as pitching coach last season when Cal McLish was ill, will replace McLish.

No comment from General Manager Harry Dalton.

Canadian Football: Last-quarter touchdowns by backup quarterback Kevin Starkey and running back Alvin (Skip) Walker led the Ottawa Rough Riders to a 30-20 upset over the host Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a CFL playoff.

In Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers beat the Calgary Stampes

John McEnroe, showing the form that made him the world's No. 1-rankquarterback Kevin Starkey and running back Alvin (Skip) Walker led the Ottawa Rough Riders to a 30-20 upset over the host Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a CFL playoff.

In Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers beat the Calgary Stampeders, 24-3, with the help of Dieter Brock's passing.