Ivan Lendl, the world's second-ranked player, ended Wimbledon champion Boris Becker's 16-match victory streak today with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win before 6,829 in a semifinal match of the U.S. Clay Court Tennis Championships.
Lendl, who is the No. 1 seed here, will play Andres Gomez Sunday for the championship. Earlier today, Gomez advanced to the final -- his first of the year -- by defeating Yannick Noah, 6-0, 6-1, in 51 minutes. Gomez won this tournament last year, and this will be his third straight final.
The last player to beat Becker was Mats Wilander, in the French Open. Since then, Becker had won the Queens Club tournament before Wimbledon and three matches here.
As he left the court, Becker, a 17-year-old West German who inspired crowds at the practice courts this week, many of whose members wore T-shirts with the inscription, "I'm a Boris Becker Backer," waved to the cheering crowd.
"Of course I'm a little bit upset that I lost, but I'm still a human being," Becker said. "I have to lose some days."
"In the first set, I played very good tennis," Becker added. "It was a little bit worse in the second and the third. I wasn't tired. Today, he (Lendl) was better."
Lendl said Becker's play surprised him in some ways.
"I didn't know what to do on his serve," Lendl said. "I thought the thing to do was stand close and try to catch it."
That didn't work too well, however. Lendl only was able to break Becker once, in the first set, and that was after Becker had broken him. Becker broke Lendl again in the 11th game when Lendl netted a backhand at 30-40.
With two set points in the 12th game, Becker double-faulted and then, on the next point, sent Lendl scrambling to the baseline while he came to the net. After his overhead won the set, Becker pumped his fists in his best Wimbledon style.
Lendl was down a set to the wunderkind.
"I said to myself, 'Look here, you played quite well,' " Lendl said. " 'If you lose, it's only one more set.' But he got slower."
Lendl found a solution to Becker's serve in the second set. After Becker hit two straight aces in the second game, Lendl moved 20 feet behind the line and returned serve from there the rest of the match.
"He didn't know how to handle it," Lendl said. "I was surprised. If you do that with (Jimmy) Connors or (John) McEnroe, they figure out a way to get you back in the court."
Becker admitted the move bothered him.
"If you're waiting for the return for 25 seconds, sure (it bothers you)," he said. "I thought I could play serve and volley but he played some good returns."
Becker, who was playing Lendl for the first time and had been looking forward to it, said the experience taught him something.
"Lendl is playing in a different world from the other players," he said. "He makes like five mistakes in 2 1/2 hours. He's playing a different game. One day, I hope I'm on his level."
Lendl broke Becker quickly in the second set, going up, 3-1. At 5-2, Lendl broke him again to force the third set.
Both players said the point at 30-30 of the first game of the third set was the most important in the match. With Lendl serving, they played a long point that ended with Becker netting a backhand shot as he dove to the clay.
Lendl got double break point on Becker in the sixth game and broke when Becker rushed the net after a serve and netted a volley.
Lendl got triple match point on Becker's serve in the eighth game. Becker held on for two points, but then Lendl hit a shallow cross court shot to Becker's backhand. The West German got his racket on the ball, but not enough to get it over the net.
Earlier, Andrea Temesvari, who had lost eight of her previous 11 matches before this tournament, won the women's title for the second time in three years. She defeated second-seeded Zina Garrison, 7-6 (7-0), 6-3. The title was worth $34,000. Garrison received $17,000.
Garrison, it seemed, had everything Temesvari once had and wanted back.
In early 1984, Temesvari was the world's seventh-ranked player. Today, when they walked onto the court for their nationally televised match, Garrison was No. 7.
"I went out there and said this is the match where I have to put 100 percent," said Temesvari, who had not won more than two matches in any of her last seven tournaments and had not even been in a semifinal this year. "This was to prove myself.
"I was the one directing the match," added Temesvari. "I tried to play a lot of high topspin, to play steady and very long. If I played shorter, she would have attacked me. You can't hit it short or she'll just come in and win."
Garrison broke Temesvari to go up, 6-5, in the first set, but at 30-all of the next game, serving for the set, Garrison suddenly fell apart, losing the next 18 straight points to drop the game, the tie breaker, the first two games of the second set and the first point of the third game.
"I think today I was lackadaisical," said Garrison. "I should have been a little more nervous." In the tie breaker, Garrison hit three shots long, two wide and netted two.
Temesvari broke again in the third and seventh games, winning the set easily.
In the first men's semifinal, Noah, who won the D.C. National Bank Tennis Classic Monday in Washington, never was in the match against Gomez.
Down, 6-0, 4-0 in the second set, Noah gave his racket to the ball boy and sat in the net cord judge's seat with his fingers on the net. "I thought that was my last chance," Noah said.
"Just last week, I couldn't put three balls in a row in the court and now I played the best match of my life," said Gomez, who was seeded second in the D.C. tournament but lost his first match to Pablo Arraya.
"He wasn't missing much," said Noah. "He played unbelievable. When I was coming in, he was passing me like I was a ball boy.
"I just had to think, 'It's just a tennis match.' When I was down, 6-0, 5-0, I was thinking about my wife and kid, everything's nice."