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Shaping Up, Lloyd Downs Gullikson

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

John Lloyd exhibited fitness and agility in defeating Tom Gullikson, 6-4, 7-5, Wednesday night in a first-round match of the Coopers & Lybrand Champions tennis tournament at Sherwood Country Club.

Lloyd ended a six-match singles losing streak on the tour with the victory and faces fourth-seeded Andres Gomez in a quarterfinal Friday night.

In Wednesday’s second match, Guillermo Vilas defeated Roscoe Tanner, 6-4, 6-4. Vilas will play top-seeded Jimmy Connors in a quarterfinal on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

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Lloyd and Gullikson played an almost even first set, with neither player leading by more than a game until the end.

In the second set, Gullikson broke Lloyd’s serve in the fourth game and then held serve to take a 4-1 lead.

Lloyd produced cross-court winners and deft play at the net along with what he said was improved conditioning.

“I’ve really worked hard for this tournament,” said Lloyd, who is 3-6 this season in Champions singles play.

“I wanted to get out of this mini-slump. I beat [Jose-Luis] Clerc in the second round at the Boca Raton tournament and haven’t had the intensity since.”

Gullikson, who has spent much of his time this year with his duties as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, said he was hampered by a lack of match play.

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“I hit a lot of good shots but I wasn’t consistent,” said Gullikson, whose appearance was his first on the Champions tour in 1995. “I should have won the second set. I had a chance to go up, 5-1, but I’ve forgotten how to play because I’m a little rusty.”

The 41-year-old Lloyd, who had two weeks to prepare for the tournament, played before 30 friends and family members.

The Pacific Palisades resident trained four times a week in a local gym. He also trained on the court with several players on the mainstream Assn. of Tennis Professionals tour and worked out with Champions colleague Johan Kriek, who stayed at Lloyd’s house last weekend.

“I felt like I was fit enough to run down almost every ball,” Lloyd said. “I felt like I deserved to win.”

Lloyd also attributed his improved game to the coaching he has done recently with Tracy Austin and the British Davis Cup team.

“My forehand is definitely better than it was when I was on the main tour,” Lloyd said. “I’ve spent a lot of time coaching and it’s improved my own technique.”

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Today’s matches at the tournament begin at 7 p.m. with No. 2-seeded Bjorn Borg facing Tim Wilkison, and No. 3-seeded Kriek playing Clerc.

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