John McEnroe, off to his fastest start since 1985, defeated top-seeded Ivan Lendl, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 7-5, in a semifinal match at the WCT Finals in Dallas Friday night. McEnroe lost the first-set tiebreaker, 7-4, and won the second-set tiebreaker, 7-5.
McEnroe will meet Brad Gilbert, the tournament’s fourth alternate, in today’s championship. Gilbert advanced by beating Mikael Pernfors on Thursday.
A McEnroe victory would mean a tournament-record fifth WCT Finals title, surpassing his own mark. McEnroe is 10-1 lifetime against Gilbert, who was called in to replace flu-ridden Boris Becker Tuesday.
Lendl was assessed a costly point penalty in the fourth set. McEnroe faced triple-break point with the set tied, 4-4, but he rallied to send the game to deuce.
At that point, Lendl argued that McEnroe’s serve was out, becoming so enraged he took a seat. He was assessed the point penalty for delaying the match.
Both players held serve, then McEnroe broke Lendl at 30 for the match, with Lendl netting a backhand at match point to end the four-hour battle.
Top-seeded Steffi Graf and sixth-seeded Hana Mandlikova will face each other in a semifinal match of the U.S. Women’s Hardcourt Tennis Championships after winning their quarterfinal matches.
Graf, a West German, defeated eighth-seeded Terry Phelps, 6-3, 6-0. Mandlikova, an Australian, eliminated unseeded Camille Benjamin of Bakersfield, 7-5, 7-5.
Third-seeded Rafaella Reggi of Italy beat Carling Bassett-Seguso to advance to the semifinals of the $100,000 Virginia Slims at Oklahoma City. Reggi won, 6-2, 4-6, 4-4, when Bassett-Seguso retired after hurting her right ankle.