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Injury Forces McEnroe to Quit Doubles Match

Times Staff Writer

With a place in the Wimbledon singles final at arm’s length, John McEnroe’s shoulder acted up Thursday and he was forced to retire from his doubles match.

McEnroe’s injury was not believed serious enough, however, to prevent him from playing his semifinal match today against Stefan Edberg.

Tour trainer Bill Norris said that McEnroe felt pain in his left shoulder, his posterior rotator cuff, Thursday morning and received laser treatment and muscle stimulation for an hour.

Norris said that McEnroe’s problem was caused by his extended play. In five singles matches, he has played 20 sets and was in his 14th set of doubles with Swiss partner Jakob Hlasek when he withdrew.

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The third-round doubles match with Peter Doohan and Laurie Warder of Australia had been carried over from Wednesday, when play was suspended because of darkness. McEnroe and Hlasek were ahead, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 4-2.

In the other singles semifinal, Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker will match rankings, serves and egos, providing neither strains a muscle dodging the favorite’s role.

Lendl, the No. 1 player in the world, and Becker, ranked No. 2, have run up against one another twice before at Wimbledon, Becker winning both times.

Last year, Becker defeated Lendl in a four-set semifinal. He swept three sets from Lendl in the 1986 final, which is as close as Lendl has ever been to the one tennis title he doesn’t have.

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Lendl said it’s clear to him that Becker, who has won each of the 15 sets he has played, ought to be picked to win.

“He’s obviously playing well and he should be the favorite,” Lendl said.

Becker disagreed.

“You have the No. 1 player in the world playing against the No. 2 player in the world, and if the No. 1 player says the No. 2 player is the favorite, something is wrong.”

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A London bookmaker, William Hill, has made Becker an 11-10 favorite to win Wimbledon.

Edberg--who has lost seven of nine matches to McEnroe--is a 5-2 choice to win it all. Lendl is 7-2 and McEnroe 6-1.

Edberg, the defending champion, has moved quietly through to the semifinals, where he is one match closer to becoming the first repeat champion since Becker in 1985-86.

After watching McEnroe play here, Edberg thinks he has spotted a weakness.

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“He’s a very solid grass-court player, but I think what he has trouble with is changing his game,” Edberg said. “He does the same things most of the time.

“I know where he’s going to pass me most of the time, and he very seldom changes the pattern.

“I’m not going to give out all the tips. He’s going cross-court nine times out of 10 instead of maybe hitting a few down the line for a change. Things like that.”

As for Lendl, it has been difficult for him to change his luck on grass. In his 10th year at Wimbledon, Lendl has reached two finals. He lost to Pat Cash in 1987.

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But this may be Lendl’s year at last, because of the weather. There was no rain for a month before the tournament began, and the grass courts, fanned by warm winds and baked in the sun, are harder than usual, which means the ball bounces higher than usual. That can only help Lendl.

“I think grass likes me a little more,” Lendl said.

Becker said Lendl’s improvement on grass is apparent, although he hopes their history together amounts to something.

“We both have met here before, you know, and hopefully the winner stays the same,” he said.

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