Defending champion Ivan Lendl fought off a temper tantrum and two match points Friday to defeat No. 1 ranked Stefan Edberg in five sets to reach the final of the $4 million Australian Open.
Lendl rallied to defeat Edberg 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in the four-hour, two-minute match. He will meet Boris Becker, who defeated Patrick McEnroe 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the other semifinal Friday.McEnroe, the younger brother of tennis giant John McEnroe but himself ranked just 114th in the world, split the first two sets with Becker, the world No. 2.
Lendl's trip to the final is his fourth, and he'll be seeking his third consecutive Australian title.
Edberg's biggest problem seemed to be tiredness.
With the fourth set and the match in his grasp, a muffed volley and then a double fault took the match to the fifth set.
"It was a couple of inches below the tape and he was bold with it," Lendl said of Edberg's first match point. "It was a brave shot he was picking to play. There wasn't much margin for error."
The double fault on Edberg's second match point was one of 11.
"One every second service game, not counting tiebreakers," Lendl said. "I don't think it's so bad. He always goes for his serve."
Edberg said he couldn't recall a double fault at such an inopportune time in such an important match.
"I'm sure it has happened before, but not in the semifinal of a Grand Slam," he said.
The match moved into a tiebreaker on service and Lendl, who had been briefly upset by confusion over line calls - one was overruled by umpire David Littlefield and one wasn't - regained his composure and confidence, made it 2-2 when he won the tiebreak 7-3.
Both players lost their opening services in the final set, but Lendl went to 3-2 with his service to follow when he broke Edberg's service on the first of two break points.
Lendl collected three aces to go to 4-2. He served two double faults in the final game, but finally clinched his place in the final when he pushed a forehand wide of Edberg.