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TENNIS ROUNDUP : Becker, Sampras Reach U.S. Hardcourts Final

From Associated Press

Boris Becker outslugged sixth-seeded David Wheaton, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, on Saturday to advance to the finals of the U.S. Men’s Hardcourts Championship at Indianapolis.

Becker advanced to the championship match for the third time in four years, and will meet No. 5 Pete Sampras, who overpowered second-seeded Jim Courier, 6-3, 7-6 (9-7), in the rain-delayed second semifinal. Becker, seeded No. 1, won in 1988 and ’90 and did not play in ’89.

Becker and Wheaton fired big serves at each other for more than two hours in a rematch of their Wimbledon semifinal, which Becker won in straight sets.

Becker took a 3-2 lead in the fifth game of the second set when Wheaton netted a backhand volley for the match’s lone service break.

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Two games later, Wheaton led love-40 when Becker committed three consecutive unforced errors on his own serve.

“I said to myself, ‘It’s love-40, I better make a couple good shots,’ and that’s exactly what I did,” said Becker, who won only nine points more than Wheaton in the match.

He made sure Wheaton didn’t even the set at 4-4 with two big serves that forced weak returns, then won the game after a second deuce with a backhand down the line to go up 5-3.

“He’s the kind of player who likes the same kind of game all the time with fast points,” Becker said. “I knew that the longer the points were, the better it was for me.”

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Sampras, the U.S. Open champion, beat Courier, the French Open champion, for the second week in a row in a semifinal.

Sampras won 13 of 16 points and three consecutive games to go up 6-3, 1-0.

“He seems pretty nervous when I play him,” Sampras said. “I’m much more loose.”

“I don’t seem to have much luck on my birthday,” said Courier, who turned 21 Saturday and is 0-3 playing on his birthday.

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“I can’t wait until ’93. My birthday will be on a Monday and I’ll ask for a Tuesday start.”

Goran Ivanisevic, who has struggled with concentration problems, took advantage of defending champion Derrick Rostagno’s mental lapses to advance to the Volvo International finals at New Haven, Conn.

Ivanisevic played steadily but unspectacularly, and Rostagno consistently failed to put away volley opportunities.

“He was missing some easy shots,” Ivanisevic said. “I didn’t play so well, but I won.”

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He won, 6-4, 7-5, and will face Petr Korda today. Korda neutralized Marc Rosset’s big serve and beat him, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to the final for the third time in his past four tournaments.

The end of the Ivanisevic-Rostagno match was marred by a helicopter circling close to the tennis stadium at a crucial point, disrupting both players’ concentration.

“It was a bad time for the helicopter to land on the court,” Rostagno said sarcastically.

Ivanisevic will be looking for his third career title. Korda has never won.

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