Ivan Lendl, who piqued the civic pride of the citizens of Indianapolis this week by saying he didn't want to be here, won their tournament today, defeating Andres Gomez, 6-1, 6-3.
Lendl was designated by the Men's International Pro Tennis Council to play in the U.S. Clay Courts Championships here as part of a standard measure the MIPTC takes to ensure quality fields. When his first public words here voiced his resentment at being forced to play, it seemed all of Indianapolis -- a city that prides itself on its sports facilities and as the home of amateur sports festivals -- took offense.
"Thanks for coming, even if you didn't want me to win," Lendl told the crowd of 6,866 over the public address system after his victory. Saturday, the crowd pulled for Boris Becker and today switched its allegiance to Gomez, often booing Lendl, whose complaint was that he didn't want to play on clay so shortly before the U.S. Open, which is played on a hard court.
"That's the way it goes," Lendl said. "That's too bad. Maybe next year your Boris will win."
On Saturday, Lendl, the world's second-ranked player behind John McEnroe, dismissed Wimbledon champion Becker.
"It is different when you play someone who is No. 2 in the world," said Gomez, the defending champion here who is ranked seventh in the world. "That's why he's been there so long. It was the first time I've played No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 (in some time). This is a whole different game. It's a whole different mental game."
The difference began to make itself clear quickly, as Lendl broke Gomez's second and third service games to go up, 5-1. In the seventh game, Gomez committed a double-fault to go down, love-30. He got back to deuce, but hit a forehand wide to give Lendl the advantage and then double-faulted to lose the set.
"I think he was rushing too much in the first set," said Lendl, whose strategy was to move Gomez around the court.
Gomez began to play the ball higher in the second set, and was able to stay even to 2-all.
Gomez's strategy kept him in the match until the sixth game. Serving at 3-2, Gomez went up 30-0, but lost three straight points to give Lendl a break point. Gomez then committed his third double-fault of the match to lose the game.
Lendl went up, 5-2, on his own serve, and had a match point in the next game before Gomez held. In the final game, Lendl went up three match points, winning it on the second when Gomez hit a ball that tipped the net and went out.
The victory -- Lendl's fifth tournament win of the year -- was worth $51,000. Gomez earned $21,500.
Gomez, who has lost to Lendl in nine of 10 matches, got his only win in 1981 in the quarterfinals of the then-Washington Star tournament.
"I don't think I played that bad," said Gomez, who has struggled with injuries and had not been in a final previously this year. "Coming into this tournament, I was hoping to get past the first round."
Last week in Washington, defending champion Gomez was upset in his first match by Pablo Arraya, and he had lost in the first or second round of three of his last four tournaments. "Maybe when I got here I wasn't working that hard," said Gomez. "Now, I'm back working hard. I think I'm ready to get back and try to get up where I was. I learn something every time I lose to him (Lendl)," Gomez said. "People say, 'Then why do you keep losing to him?' (Today, I learned) I just have to be a little more patient. Maybe what I learn is not enough to beat him, but it's enough to beat a thousand other guys."