Becker, Capriati Knocked Out

TIMES SPORTS EDITOR

There was no boom-boom in Boris Becker and only flashes of the old bing-bang in Jennifer Capriati here Tuesday.

And so the second day of this combined men's and women's tennis extravaganza in the desert, while continuing to attract impressive early week crowds, was a loser in the name game.

Becker, two-time winner of the men's tournament here that now goes by the name Newsweek Champions Cup, and a large box-office draw even without his recent Australian Open victory, lost to a journeyman clay-court player named Carlos Costa, 6-3, 7-5. Becker led in the second set, 4-1 and 5-2, and had a 40-love lead on his serve at 5-5, yet still managed to lose to a Spaniard who doesn't really feel comfortable on a tennis court unless his socks are red and his nostrils are caked. Costa, ranked No. 38 in the world to Becker's No. 4, has won six titles, all on clay, in his seven-plus years on the ATP tour.

Capriati, playing in only her second tournament in her well-documented comeback and attracting superstar-like attention, found her game not quite ready for prime time in a 6-3, 6-3 loss to fifth-seeded Chanda Rubin in the featured evening match of the State Farm Evert Cup. A victory would have put Capriati in the quarterfinals against Lindsay Davenport, possibly en route to a semifinal matchup with Steffi Graf that would have had the tennis world gushing.

But when her match was over, Capriati, once as high as No. 6 in the world before she left the tour after the U.S. Open in 1993, seemed to have more perspective about her current place in tennis than so many others who seem to be looking for an instant reincarnation of Chris Evert.

"First of all, I mean, she has been playing and I haven't," Capriati said of Rubin.

Becker's serve-and-volley power game normally would have prevailed on the hard courts at Indian Wells, even if these hard courts are fairly soft and medium slow. But Becker's normal plodding start never un-plodded, and his failure to close out the second set after building big leads puzzled even the normally analytical German.

"I'd like to know too," Becker said. "I have to go back now and think about why I am not able to play good tennis."

The afternoon matches at the Hyatt Grand Champions Stadium were played in swirling wind, and some expected Becker to point to that as part of the problem. Instead, he said, logically, "Unfortunately, it is the wind for both players."

For his part, Costa was less than bubbly after what was only his sixth victory against a top 10 player in his career. "I didn't play well, he didn't play well," Costa said.

Capriati had a similar assessment of her match. "I don't think I played as well as I would have liked," she said. "I think I forced the error a lot more this match."

Facing a player who hit just as hard off the ground and who was a step or so quicker, Capriati still managed to battle back from deficits of 0-3 and 1-4 in the second set. She held for 2-4, then got a boost from a fired-up crowd and eventually broke Rubin for 3-4.

But Rubin turned it right around by breaking back at love, winning the game by cranking back a forehand winner off a 97-mph first serve from Capriati at love-40.

Tennis Notes

Steffi Graf, co-holder of the No. 1 ranking with Monica Seles, continued her comeback as if she'd never left, making her way into the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Amanda Coetzer. Coetzer was one of only two players to beat Graf last year, the other being Mariann de Swardt. . . . Conchita Martinez, seeded second, also cruised along, defeating Ai Sugiyama, 6-0, 6-3. . . . Seventh-seeded Lindsay Davenport got by 15th-seeded Judith Wiesner, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, but sixth-seeded Brenda Schultz-McCarthy lost to Lindsay Lee, 7-5, 6-7 (8-6), 6-3.

In men's matches, Renzo Furlan and Jonathan Stark eliminated seeded players, and the man with the tournament's best name, Hernan Gumy, almost did the same against No. 9 Wayne Ferreira. Furlan ousted big-serving Marc Rosset, seeded 10th, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, and Stark beat No. 15 Malavai Washington, 6-3, 7-5. Ferreira struggled before getting by the 54th-ranked Argentine, 6-7 (7-1), 7-5, 6-0. . . . Other winners of note on the men's side were Stefan Edberg, the 1990 champion here, who has drifted out of the top 50 at No. 55 for the first time in 12 years, and Australian newcomer Mark Philippoussis. Edberg beat Jiri Novak, 6-1, 6-2, and Philippoussis beat Francisco Clavet, 6-3, 6-0. . . . Tuesday's attendance for the day session was 11,700, or 200 above the designated sellout.

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Today's Matches

EVERT CUP

* Lindsay Davenport vs. Chanda Rubin

* Nathalie Tauziat vs. Kimiko Date

* Lindsay Lee vs. Conchita Martinez

CHAMPIONS CUP

* Michael Chang vs. Stefan Edberg

* Pete Sampras vs. Alex Corretja

* Andre Agassi vs. Sjeng Schalken

* Adrian Voinea vs. Thomas Muster

* Byron Black vs. Goran Ivanisevic

* Jim Courier vs. Todd Woodbridge

* Paul Haarhuis vs. Thomas Enqvist

* Todd Martin vs. Mark Woodforde

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