Brad Gilbert played a patient baseline game and unveiled an assortment of pin-point passing shots Saturday to beat Kevin Curren 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 and advance to the final of the $415,000 Volvo tennis indoor Championship in Memphis, Tenn.
Gilbert, ranked 19th in the world, will meet the winner of Saturday's late match between Michael Chang against 16 Johan Kriek.
The only break in the second set came in the fifth game, when Gilbert reached break point with a backhand passing shot and gained the break when Curren hit a baseline forehand long.
"Kevin was going for a lot of winners on his first serve, and that helped me quite a bit," Gilbert said. "When I play a big server, I just try to get the ball in play and make them play a few more points than they normally would.
"I toughed out the first set and got the one (service) break in the second set and made it hold up. I returned well, and I felt I was unlucky not to break a couple of other times," said Gilbert, a finalist last week at Chicago.
***** At Milan, Italy, Boris Becker beat John McEnroe 6-2, 6-3, and Alexander Volkov beat Eric Jelen 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (9-7) Saturday, advancing to the final of the $492,500 Stella Artois indoor tennis championships.
Volkov, a 21-year-old from the Soviet Union who is ranked 61st, earned his first final ever in a major tournament. He alternated passing shots with unforced mistakes and captured a berth in the final after spoiling six match points. He scored the qualifying point with a fine lob.
Becker, who led West Germany to victory in the Davis Cup final against Sweden last December, took 1 hour, 34 minutes to score his fourth victory in five matches with the 30-year-old American.
Becker, who had struggled against unseeded Christian Betgstrom of Sweden in Friday's quarterfinals, showed improvement against McEnroe. Becker served 10 aces as he ended McEnroe's chance to win Milan for the fifth time. McEnroe has not won since a tournament in Detroit last November.
***** At Fairfax, Va., Steffi Graf overcame a second-set scare in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Natalia Zvereva that put her in the finals of the $300,000 Virginia Slims of Washington.
Graf, the world's top-ranked player, on Sunday will vie for the $60,000 top prize against Zina Garrison, who moved into the finals after Monica Seles withdrew late Saturday because of the sprained right ankle she suffered in Friday's quarterfinal upset of third-seed Manuela Maleeva.