A rash of upsets has swept the field at the U.S. Hardcourts tennis tournament and just five seeded players remain for the quarterfinals, including a relieved Boris Becker.
Becker, the No. 1 seed, beat Rick Leach 6-3, 6-4 during third round play Thursday night in his first tournament appearance since losing the Wimbledon final to Stefan Edberg on July 4."I was kind of pleased just to have it under my belt," said Becker, who never lost his serve against Leach.
"I am feeling more comfortable now. I think the key to the match was that he had to put a lot of first serves in because he wasn't winning a lot of points on his second serve," Becker said.
Fifth seed John McEnroe needed three sets to beat 11th-seeded Australian John Frawley, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3.
The New Yorker has struggled while trying to regain the form that made him the world's top-ranked player from 1981-84.
"This was a hard-won victory," he said. "The consistency is not there. I need to put more pressure on the opponent."
Instead, Frawley tightened his grip on McEnroe by winning his service game at deuce to force the first tiebreaker. He took the tiebreaker 8-6 when McEnroe's approach sailed long.
McEnroe, seeking to improve his world ranking of 17, says his concentration lapses more easily than before.
"It's a new thing for me. I have more distractions in general. I'm thrown off for a couple of points and it's harder for me to get back in it," he said.
Tatum O'Neal, who is most likely a pleasant distraction for her husband, cheered him on along with 6,600 fans.
No. 2 Jimmy Connors, third seed Brad Gilbert, No. 6 Aaron Krickstein and No. 8 Peter Lundgren were beaten.
Becker, McEnroe and three other little-known Americans - No. 10 Derrick Rostagno, 13th seed Jim Pugh and No. 15 Robert Seguso - are the only other seeded players left in the tournament that ends Sunday.
Fourth seed Tim Mayotte, No. 7 John Fitzgerald and No. 14 Kelly Everndon exited in the second round on Tuesday.
Becker's quarterfinal opponent today will be Senegal's Yahiya Doumbia, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over Lundgren.
McEnroe next plays American qualifier Michael Robertson. Robertson beat Mark Dickson 6-4, 6-4.
Connors disappointed a partisan stadium court crowd with his 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 loss to Seguso.
It was only Seguso's second win against Connors in seven career meetings. Connors, 35, lost in straight sets to the U.S. Davis Cup doubles player in the first round at Wimbledon in 1986.
Seguso, ranked 67th, recently returned from a victorious Davis Cup match in Argentina, where he endured loud taunts from local fans.