U.S. Open : It's Feast, Famine as Gilbert Is Upset

Times Staff Writer

The No. Ate Seed?

Brad Gilbert, who said he had an upset stomach after overeating the night before, was upset Monday in the first round of the U.S. Open.

The eighth-seeded and eighth-ranked Gilbert lost to Todd Witsken, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, which ended Gilbert's streak of three straight tournament titles.

Gilbert said he just felt sick about that. "I got sick this morning," Gilbert said. "Maybe I ate too much last night, but I didn't have anything left the last two sets. My brain wanted to, but my body just wasn't listening."

Gilbert ate bananas, chocolate and brownies and drank water and soda during the match to try to get some energy, but wound up with muscle cramps instead.

"That's God's way of torturing you," he said.

Witsken, 24, and ranked No. 63, is used to upsets at the Open. In 1986, Witsken upset Jimmy Connors in the third round.

Witsken won the last four games of the final set, capitalizing on Gilbert's unforced errors. Gilbert, who had won 17 consecutive matches, mis-hit forehands, backhands and volleys.

Also, Gilbert double-faulted 10 times, Witsken twice.

"I think winning all those matches and playing so much tennis is tiring," Witsken said. "I think he might be needing a rest."

Gilbert, 28, used a service winner and two aces to win the first set, overcoming unforced errors on both baseline shots and volleys.

But Witsken, 25, of Carmel, Ind., hit passing shots left and right as Gilbert charged the net. He forced a tiebreaker in the second set, subsequently winning, 7-4, as he won the last five points.

Witsken, who has been on the men's tour since 1982 but has never won a singles tournament, is better known as a doubles player. Witsken reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open last year.

"I knew I was more fit than Brad was," Witsken said. "I play long matches almost every time. Brad serves and volleys more, and has quicker points."

The International Olympic Committee is expected to take action this week on a rule that would ban anyone from future Olympics who has played in South Africa since the Seoul Olympics. That would affect Brad Gilbert, who played in a Grand Prix tournament in Johannesburg last year.

Gilbert said such a ruling would be "incredibly unjust." He said tournaments are held in the Soviet Union and Japan, and each of those countries violate civil rights. "I'm not going to say I agree with apartheid," Gilbert said. "It's a terrible thing. But you can't single one country out. In China, they kill people on the streets. That's not too lovely. And we're going to play a tournament there."

Gilbert, who said he would not play an exhibition in South Africa, said he wouldn't be bothered by an Olympics ban. "In 1992, I'll be 32 and I'll be there anyway," he said. "I'll be there spectating."

Buy a ticket to Court 3 today and see all the Sanchez kids: Javier (vs. Paul Chamberlin), Emilio (vs. Donnie Leacraft), and Arantxa (vs. Jo-Anne Faull).

Steffi Graf said she is too used to practicing against men, which is why she started slowly in her 6-3, 6-1 victory over Etsuko Inoue of Japan.

"I think I was rushing too much," Graf said. "I had no patience. I miss a lot of forehands in the beginning."

Graf's forehand, her best shot, was erratic throughout. She had 14 forehand winners and 15 forehand unforced errors.

In other results Monday, Boris Becker swept David Pate, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1; John McEnroe beat Eric Winogradsky of France, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4; Albert Mancini of Argentina struggled past Jonathan Canter, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, and Aaron Krickstein, 14th-seeded, beat Richard Matuszewski, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Fifth-seeded Zina Garrison defeated Radka Zrubakova of Czechoslovakia, 6-2, 6-1, No. 14 Natalia Zvereva of the Soviet Union ousted Pascale Paradis of France, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6, and No. 15 Conchita Martinez of Spain beat Sandra Birch, 6-3, 6-2.

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