French Open : Leconte Holds Off Noah in Upset
An inspired Henri Leconte upset fellow Frenchman Yannick Noah, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 4-6, 6-1, at the French Open tennis championships Sunday in an emotion-charged, fourth-round match before a frenzied partisan crowd.
Noah, winner of the 1983 French Open, came back from two sets down to set the stage for a dramatic finish. But the hard-hitting, 22-year-old Leconte, who teamed with Noah to win the doubles title here last year, never let the ninth-seeded player get started in the decisive set.
“I could not play the match thinking I was playing Yannick Noah,” said Leconte, who concedes that he has always thought of the 25-year-old Noah as something of a big brother.
“I just had to go out and think I was playing just another player.”
Noah said of Leconte: “Sometimes it’s a little hard to play somebody you’re used to encouraging. . . . I am not surprised at the way he played, because I knew he was playing so well last week. I started too slowly, and when I was losing the first two sets I was giving him the match.
“In the fifth (set) I served well, but he hit some great winners.” Noah said.
The victory sends Leconte, who earlier eliminated fifth-seeded Andres Gomez of Ecuador, to the quarterfinals against fourth-seeded Mats Wilander, a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 winner over Tomas Smid of Czechoslovakia.
In other fourth-round men’s matches played Sunday, top-seeded John McEnroe eliminated 12th-seeded Henrik Sundstrom of Sweden, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2, while another Swede, seventh-seeded Joakim Nystrom, stopped Chile’s Hans Gildemeister, 7-6, 6-1, 6-1.
“He didn’t play as well as I expected,” McEnroe said of Sundstrom. “I thought he would have me on the defensive with his topspin, but it didn’t work out that way.”
In women’s fourth-round matches, second-seeded Chris Evert Lloyd downed 11th-seeded Steffi Graf of West Germany, 6-2, 6-3; Terry Phelps, an 18-year-old right-hander from Larchmont, N.Y., upset eighth-seeded Carling Bassett of Canada, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3; fourth-seeded Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria defeated 10th-seeded Bonnie Gadusek, 7-5, 6-3; and 15-year-old Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, seeded 14th, ousted South Africa’s Rosalyn Fairbank, 6-0, 1-6, 7-5.
In the bottom half of the women’s draw, Lloyd will face Phelps and Maleeva will play Sabatini.