TENNIS ROUNDUP : Aguilera Shocks Becker
Unseeded Juan Aguilera of Spain scored a stunning straight-set upset over top-seeded Boris Becker in the final of the $1-million German Open Sunday at Hamburg, West Germany.
Aguilera, the German Open champion in 1984, confused Becker with his touch play and a succession of superb passing shots in scoring a 6-1, 6-0, 7-6 (9-7) victory.
Becker, ranked third in the world, was outmaneuvered from early in the match. From 1-1 in the first set, the three-time Wimbledon champion lost 10 games in a row to trail, 6-1, 5-0, when rain held up play for an hour.
Whatever Becker tried, Aguilera, ranked 26th in the world, had the answer.
If Becker came to the net, Aguilera passed him; if Becker stayed back, he was outrallied by the agile Aguilera taking the pace of the ball with accurate slices.
“I have never seen anything like the way he played in the first two sets,” Becker said. “He was like a teacher. He put the ball exactly where he wanted it every time, there was no way I could do anything.”
The victory was Aguilera’s first in a major tournament since the German Open six years ago. He also won smaller tournaments at Bari, Italy, Aix-En-Provence and Nice, France. But after being ranked No. 7 in 1984, he plunged to 255 in 1986.
This year, however, he has a 13-1 record, including a win over second-ranked Stefan Edberg at the Monte Carlo Open last month, and his ranking has gone from 64th to 26th.
The West German spent most of the first two sets shaking his head in amazement as the ball went zipping past him or he was caught flat-footed.
Becker broke Aguilera’s serve for the first time in the match to go up, 2-0, in the third set. But Becker still was struggling against Aguilera’s greater accuracy in the longer rallies.
Becker lost his serve twice more, but on each occasion he bounced back to force a tiebreaker as Aguilera began to make errors.
Becker twice lost his serve in the tiebreaker, once on a double-fault to trail, 5-3. He pulled back to 5-5, but then floated a forehand over the baseline to set up match point for Aguilera at 6-5.
But Aguilera then lost a 22-stroke rally when he struck a backhand wide. Becker held his second set point at 7-6 when he sliced a backhand volley winner.
Becker’s error at 7-7 set up the second match point for Aguilera, who clinched the victory when Becker hit a backhand over the baseline to end a 43-stroke rally.
David Wheaton, playing in his first ATP Tour event since a leg injury sidelined him for more than two months ago, beat Mark Kaplan, 6-4, 6-4, to win the U.S. men’s Clay Court Championship, his first pro title.
The 48th-ranked Wheaton, who won four consecutive three-set matches to earn his way to the final, downed Kaplan, ranked 168th in the world, before 2,845 on a humid and overcast afternoon at the East Beach Tennis Club in Kiawah Island, S.C.
Wheaton, a former Stanford standout, earned $28,370 and Kaplan $16,700 for their first appearances in a tournament final.
Kaplan, a former UC Irvine standout, wore a bandage around his upper left thigh, which he said had been bothering him the last several days. As a result, he was a step slow and had trouble chasing down Wheaton’s groundstrokes.