TENNIS L.A. OPEN : Edberg Survives Matsuoka's Blazing Serve

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Those expecting little more than a walkover by top-seeded Stefan Edberg Thursday night got more than they bargained for.

The world's No. 2 player was pushed by unseeded and unheralded Shuzo Matsuoka of Tokyo in a 7-5, 6-4 victory in the second round of the Volvo/Los Angeles tournament at UCLA.

"He's got a great first serve," Edberg said of Matsuoka, ranked 179th in the world but No. 1 in Japan. "He's athletic. He's not a bad player when he gets his serve going."

Matsuoka had it going before 6,486. Most of his first serves were clocked at more than 100 m.p.h. and one was clocked at 119.

"It's quite difficult, especially at night, when you don't see the ball as well as you do in the daylight," Edberg said. "The court is quite quick. You just have to wait for your chances. He's going to blow a couple of aces past you, and you just have to accept it. I waited for my chances, and I managed to break him twice and that was the end of it."

It wasn't quite that simple.

The match was on serve until the 11th game, when Matsuoka, with the left side of the court open, punched a volley wide at deuce. Edberg followed with a backhand winner for a break and a 6-5 lead.

Matsuoka wouldn't yield.

After falling behind, love-40, in the 12th game, Matsuoka ripped three consecutive winners for deuce. Edberg closed out the set, though, unleashing a big serve that Matsuoka returned into the net.

In the second set, Edberg broke Matsuoka at love in the fifth game, then served out the match to move into today's quarterfinals.

But it wasn't easy.

After one of Matsuoka's serves skipped past him and knocked down a metal sign, Edberg held out his hands as if to say, "Cool it."

Later, after running down a drop shot and barely getting his racket on it, Edberg caught the ball with his hand and threw it over the net.

And when the chair umpire overruled a linesman and called a Matsuoka serve good, Edberg cried out, "No," and pointed to a spot wide of the sideline.

"It was a good match for me," Edberg said. "I had to concentrate really well and had to be out there for quite some time. It's good to get these matches where you struggle a little bit and finally come through.

"It wasn't too hard because it was a lot of serve and volleys. It wasn't tiring or anything, but it was a good match to get behind you."

After playing his first two matches at night, helping to draw 14,352 to two sessions, the Wimbledon champion will be glad not to play under the lights today against Jeff Tarango of Manhattan Beach.

"I'll get my suntan back," he said.

Also, as he found Thursday, it can be scary at night.

Tennis Notes

Todd Witsken, a former USC All-American and an upset first-round winner over second-seeded Aaron Krickstein, lost a second-round match to former UCLA All-American Brian Garrow, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. . . . Also reaching the quarterfinals were seventh-seeded Gary Muller, a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 winner over Joey Rive, and unseeded Jeff Tarango of Manhattan Beach, who beat David Pate, 6-4, 6-7 (7-2), 6-4, and will play top-seeded Stefan Edberg today. . . . The top-seeded doubles team of Rick Leach and Jim Pugh reached the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Shelby Cannon and Jonathan Canter.

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