A year after Ivan Lendl won the Australian Open by defeating an injured Stefan Edberg, they brushed aside outclassed opponents to set up a rematch in the semifinals.
Lendl served 10 aces but lost his range at times on groundstrokes and had a tougher time beating unseeded Goran Prpic, 6-0, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-2) Wednesday than the top-seeded Edberg did beating another unseeded player, Jaime Yzaga, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.
Prpic, ranked No. 56, plays with a complicated brace on his right knee, but he kept up long rallies with Lendl in the second and third sets before caving in during the tiebreakers.
The only point Lendl lost in the second-set tiebreaker was a double-fault, and he won the last six points of the third-set tiebreaker. An ace set up match point, and he won it on the Yugoslav’s forehand into the net.
“Any time I play Ivan, especially in a Grand Slam, he’s a tough player to beat,” said Edberg, who won the first set of their final here last year before quitting in the third set because of a torn stomach muscle.
“He’s hitting the ball very well, and I’m playing well. It’ll be whoever’s the best man on the day. When you reach the semis, the pressure is gone. You’ve done what you were supposed to do. Now you can have fun.”
Edberg played as if practicing and sweated more from the humidity in the stadium than from anything Yzaga did.
Even when Edberg double-faulted and fell behind, 0-40, in the seventh game of the third set, Yzaga couldn’t put him away. Yzaga had an easy break point opportunity at the net with Edberg far behind the baseline, but tapped a backhand volley into the tape. Yzaga then hit errors on the next four points and was broken at love in the final game.
“I couldn’t get into my game at all in the match. I gave up really early mentally,” said the 23-year-old Yzaga, who had hoped to become the first Peruvian to win the Australian since Alex Olmedo in 1959. “I couldn’t pressure him because he kept pressing me.”
On Tuesday, U.S. Open finalist Steffi Graf and Gabriela Sabatini faded from the quarterfinals. Graf lost to Jana Novotna, 5-7, 6-4, 8-6.
Sabatini, seeded No. 4, was beaten at her own game, a blend of groundstrokes and volleys, by Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
Sanchez Vicario, smaller and stockier than Sabatini, beat the Argentine to the net, moved around the court more quickly and played with more enthusiasm in winning, 6-1, 6-3. There was no suspense, only a certainty that Sabatini could not win if she could not hold service.
Sanchez Vicario broke all four of Sabatini’s service games in the first set, and three of four in the second set.