Krickstein Advances on Default : Leg Cramps Force Berger to Retire in Open Quarterfinal

From Times Wire Services

Jay Berger retired with severe leg cramps in the fourth set against No. 14-seeded Aaron Krickstein Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis championships.

Berger, seeded No. 11, won the first set, 6-3, lost the second, 6-4, and was trailing in the third, 3-2, when the cramps began.

He let three of Krickstein's serves go by in that game, served underhanded in the seventh game to fall behind, 5-2, then sat in his courtside chair during the break, drinking. Berger limped back onto the court, carrying a water bottle, and Krickstein easily held serve for the third set.

After Krickstein broke in the first game of the fourth set, Berger gave up. It was the third time a seeded player was stricken by cramps at this Open. Brad Gilbert, suffering from a stomach virus, and Jimmy Connors, who dehydrated, were the others.

"I just was probably a little nervous going into the match," said Berger, who left the court and went to the trainer's room for treatment. "The tension got the best of me. I thought I did the right thing preparing. I didn't realize my electrolytes were low. I had a lack of the right minerals and I was burning off a lot of energy."

Said Krickstein: "Obviously, he didn't eat right yesterday or this morning. It was a long match (2 hours 15 minutes) and he ran a lot. He's usually better than that."

It will be Krickstein's first trip to the Open semifinals. The 22-year-old, a quarterfinalist last year, meets the winner of Wednesday night's match between No. 2 Boris Becker and Yannick Noah.

"Maybe I'll play a great match Saturday and make it to the finals," he said.

Meanwhile, John McEnroe said he was eager to play in his first Grand Slam championship final in four years, even if it was in doubles rather than singles.

"It's nice to be back in a final. You forget what it is like if you haven't been in one in a while," McEnroe said after winning the semifinal with his Australian partner, Mark Woodforde.

The seventh-seeded pair defeated sixth-seeded American Paul Annacone and South African Christo van Rensburg, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

In Friday's final, they will meet fourth-seeded former Wimbledon champions Ken Flach and Robert Seguso of the United States, who beat second-seeded John Fitzgerald of Australia and Anders Jarryd of Sweden, 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.

McEnroe's upbeat mood was in stark contrast to his gloom after he was upset in the second round by Dutch qualifier Paul Haarhuis a week ago.

"What this does is an incredible amount of healing of the wound of losing," he said.

McEnroe, 30, last reached a Grand Slam singles final in the 1985 U.S. Open when he lost to Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia. In the doubles, McEnroe was last in a final at the 1984 French Open with longtime partner Peter Fleming, who retired last year.

McEnroe has won seven Grand Slam singles titles, seven doubles crowns and one mixed doubles tournament.

McEnroe hopes that his doubles success will pay off with future singles victories as he tries to qualify for the field of eight that will compete for the Grand Prix Masters title in New York in November.

"It is real important for me to make it to the Masters and this has only got to help me as I'm working on playing solid, basic tennis in the doubles," said McEnroe, who returns to singles play Sept. 25 in San Francisco.

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