Ivan Lendl prepared himself for the Wimbledon title he's never won by beating three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, 6-3, 6-2, yesterday for his second straight victory in the Stella Artois tennis tournament in London.
It was Lendl's first victory over Becker on grass, a surface that has long frustrated Lendl. "He just played like a perfect player on grass today," Becker said. "One good thing about today, he can't play better."
Lendl lost to Becker in the 1986 Wimbledon final and the last two years in the semifinals. This victory thrusts Lendl into the favorite's role for Wimbledon, which begins next week.
"Before this match everybody expected me to win. Now we are even," Becker said. "This puts a bit more pressure on his back now that everybody has seen that he can play very well on grass."
Lendl swept five matches this week on the Queens Club grass courts without losing a set, including a demolition of John McEnroe in the semifinals.
It was evidence that his two months of exclusive grass court practice could pay off.
"I'm playing so much better overall and so much differently than last Wimbledon," said Lendl, who won $62,250 for the 1-hour 14-minute victory. "This easily was the best week I've had on grass, putting five matches together like this."
In Birmingham, England, Zina Garrison beat Helena Sukova, 6-4, 6-1, to win the grass court tournament and said she believes she can win Wimbledon.
The top seed took 63 minutes to record her first tournament triumph of the season -- and a $27,200 check. Garrison reached one other final this year, losing to Martina Navratilova in the Virginia Slims of Washington.
Her serve kept the Czechoslovak on the defensive throughout. Garrison returned serve well and ran down Sukova's hardest shots, and pronounced herself ready to try for her first Grand Slam tournament title. "If I can keep that up anything is possible -- even winning Wimbledon," said Garrison, whose best showing at the All-England club was a semifinal berth in 1985.
Florence International: Magnus Larsson of Sweden defeated Lawson Duncan of Asheville, N.C., 6-7, 7-5, 6-0, to win the $32,400 first prize.