It took him all day to do it, but Vijay Amritraj is in the final of his Grand Champions Tour debut.
The colorful native of India and part-time actor clobbered Steve Krulevitz yesterday afternoon in the completion of their match suspended Friday night, then dusted off Bob Lutz in the evening to earn a match against Brian Teacher in the final of his first event on the 35-and-over tour.
Amritraj was losing to Krulevitz by 4-3 in the first set Friday night when their match was halted because of rain, then came back strong yesterday, erasing Krulevitz's lead and pounding him, 7-5, 6-2.
In the evening, he started slowly against Lutz, but raised his game midway through the second set to advance, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
"It was certainly a little hectic today," Amritraj said.
Teacher also had to play twice to reach the final, but it took him only three games to finish off Silver Spring native Harold Solomon, 6-0, 6-3, in the completion of their match, halted Friday night with Teacher up by 4-2 in the second set. Last night Teacher topped Jaime Fillol, 6-0, 4-6, 6-1.
In doubles, Fillol and Marty Riessen ousted Krulevitz and Solomon, 6-2, 6-3, and Amritraj and Peter Fleming beat Lutz and Teacher, 6-4, 6-4. The doubles final follows tonight's singles.
Because of continuing bad weather, yesterday's matches were played at the Bethesda Sport and Health Club instead of the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. The change from outdoors to indoors threw some of the players for a loop.
"It's like the difference between night and day," said Lutz.
The finals are slated to begin at 6 at the FitzGerald Center, but don't count on it -- the tournament hasn't had much luck with weather. Ticket stubs from Thursday, Friday and last night will be honored.
Qualifying for next week's Sovran Bank Classic is scheduled to begin at 9 this morning at the FitzGerald Center. If it's raining, the qualifying -- 56 players vying for seven spots -- will be held at the Four Seasons Racquet Club in Fairfax.
Amritraj, 36, who was nearly flawless in finishing off Krulevitz, wasn't nearly so impressive in the first set against Lutz. And when Lutz went up by 4-2 in the second, it appeared Amritraj would be on his way out.
But the next four games changed the match. Amritraj closed to 4-3 with an ace, broke Lutz's serve, won at love, then broke again for the set.
In the third set, Amritraj roared to 5-2, then held on as Lutz mounted a comeback -- only to be broken for the match.
"I wasn't serving as well as I was in the afternoon," said Amritraj, who appeared in the films "Octopussy" and "Star Trek IV."
Amritraj, president of the Association of Tennis Professionals Players' Council, is considered the unofficial international ambassador of tennis. Friday morning he paid a visit to President Bush's office "to discuss two things very close to my heart: India and tennis."
To be eligible for the Grand Champions Tour, a player must be at least 35 and have won $1 million, a Grand Slam event, been ranked No. 1 in his country or played Davis Cup.
"I love it," said Amritraj. "It's great, first of all, to be able to see all the guys. We played against each other for years on the ATP. But it's still very competitive out here. You can't even tell that it's any slower.
"We're all buddies off the court, but once we're out there, we try like hell to win the match."