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Australian Open Tennis Championships : Wilander Is Ousted by India’s Krishnan in an Early Shocker : World’s No. 1 Player Loses in Straight Sets; Becker Burns Bright to Easily Beat Evernden

Times Staff Writer

Ramesh Krishnan of India, ranked 51st in the world, scored the upset of his career Thursday and sent ripples across the nearby Yarra River by knocking Mats Wilander of Sweden out of the Australian Open.

Wilander, the world’s No. 1 tennis player and the tournament’s defending champion, lost in shocking manner, a straight-set defeat in the second round. Krishnan, 27, won 6-3, 6-2, 7-6.

“It’s my biggest win so far, there’s no question about that,” Krishnan said. “He hasn’t played well recently and he’s definitely not in good form.”

Wilander, who was forced to 5 sets by Tobias Svantesson before pulling out a victory in the first round, gamely fought off 3 match points before going down in the tiebreaker when Krishnan punched a backhand volley just out of reach.

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After losing the first 2 sets, Wilander changed tactics and began coming to the net, but Krishnan, who played aggressively from the start, held one match point at 5-3 in the third on Wilander’s serve.

Wilander escaped that just as he did twice more in the 10th game when Krishnan dumped 2 backhand volleys into the net to miss 2 match-point opportunities

Wilander’s exit left the top half of the draw wide open for Boris Becker, who can see tennis’ Grand Slam tournaments in his sleep.

“The dream is to win all four,” Becker said. “I don’t think anyone can do it this year. Maybe I’m wrong.”

Many believe the West German is incorrect, and either he or Ivan Lendl will win the Australian Open. Becker, the third-seeded player, moved to the round of 32 Thursday with a routine 7-5, 7-1, 6-3 victory over Kelly Evernden of New Zealand.

Becker, who meets Chris Pridham of Canada in the fourth round, wasn’t particularly eager to start handicapping his chances.

“I personally see myself now not one of 128, but one of 32 who have a chance of winning the tournament.”

Pridham, 23, ranked No. 202 in the world, won, 12-10, in the fifth set of a 4-hour 4-minute match with American Glenn Layendecker.

“I’m going to go in there with the frame of mind that he’s beatable, but I’ve got nothing to lose,” Pridham said. “I just hope I play well.”

Pam Shriver, the fourth-seeded woman, clearly did not play well in her match against Sarah Loosemore, 17, of Great Britain, but she avoided an upset with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Shriver, who had trouble serving, was helped by Loosemore, who also had problems serving. She double-faulted 11 times.

Shriver said the Rebound Ace surface does not favor a big service game but admitted that serving was only part of her problems.

“I didn’t go out there thinking I was exactly playing a blind school,” Shriver said. “When I looked at the scoreboard and saw 6-1, I realized I was having some problems.

“I just have to grit my way through and develop some kind of form that’s better in a hurry,” she said.

Miloslav Mecir and Mikael Pernfors advanced, but Anders Jarryd did not. Mecir, seeded ninth, defeated Mark Kratzmann, 6-2, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, and the 12th-seeded Pernfors defeated Tore Meinecke of West Germany, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

Mecir, unshaven and with a slightly rumpled appearance, looked as if he had just fallen out of bed and landed on the tennis court for his 10 a.m. match.

“It was a bit early for me,” he said.

The time was clearly right for Hana Mandlikova and Helena Sukova, who joined Shriver in the third round with victories.

However, 14th-seeded Anne Minter was defeated by Brenda Schultz of the Netherlands, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

Gabriela Sabatini, seeded third, advanced with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Conchita Martinez, 16, of Spain in a late Center Court match Wednesday night.

But fifth-seeded Jakob Hlasek was not as fortunate. Hlasek was ousted by Australian Darren Cahill, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 7-6.

Hlasek, who was the last seeded man to play his first-round match, became the third to lose, following Frenchmen Henri Leconte and Yannick Noah.

Becker, who reached the round of 16 here last year and was eliminated in the first round in 1985, said he is aiming for more consistency in Grand Slam events. Sometimes such results, even if they are not victories, would naturally improve his ranking, he said.

“In order to become the No. 1 player, you have to have those semifinals in Grand Slam events,” he said. “This is the key, I think, for really going a step higher.


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