Kevin Curren rallied from a two-set deficit Sunday to defeat fourth-seeded Jimmy Connors and reach the quarterfinals of the $2.1 million Lipton International Players Championships.
Curren, 31, a native of South Africa who now lives in Austin, Texas, defeated the 36-year-old Connors 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. The four-hour match between the two oldest entrants in the men's draw evened their career record at five victories apiece.Another upset victim Sunday was the women's fourth seed, Pam Shriver, who was defeated in straight sets by Jana Novotna of Czechoslovakia 7-5, 6-4. Top seed Ivan Lendl, second seed Chris Evert, and fifth-seeded Zina Garrison advanced into the quarterfinals of the event with straight-set victories.
Lendl, the top seed, raised his 1989 record to 17-1 with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory over 15th-seeded Andres Gomez; Evert beat ninth-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez of Miami 7-5, 6-2; and fifth-seeded Zina Garrison beat Laura Golarsa 6-1, 6-2.
In other matches involving seeded players, 10th-seeded Aaron Krickstein eliminated Jamie Yzaga 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-3; 11th-seeded Helen Kelesi of Canada beat Katerina Maleeva of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-3; and 11th-seeded Emilio Sanchez beat Tom Nijssen 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.
After losing the first two sets, Curren, a four-time career winner, picked up his serve in the third set. Curren, who had 17 aces, is ranked 21st in the world and is the 13th seed in the tournament.
"I served well when I had to," Curren said. "As the match progressed, I think he slowly wore out and I hung in there. That's what I kept saying - `Hang in there. Hang in there."'
This is the fourth time Connors has played in the Lipton in its five-year history, and the first time he has failed to reach at least the semifinals. He disagreed with Curren's assessment that he tired at the end of the match.
"Basically, I did everything right but win the match," Connors said.
Curren said his serve was the difference in the last set.
"I think at that point in the match, I was dictating with my serve," Curren said. "There wasn't much he could do about it. I think I've got the sort of game that gives him some trouble, and I serve well, which takes away his best weapon, which is his return of serve."
Novotna, 20, beat Shriver for the first time in four meetings. She reached the semifinals of the Virginia Slims of Florida before being knocked out by Evert.
"I was really confident today," she said. "I said, `If you're going to beat her, today is your best day to do it."'
Shriver, 26, said she was sporting a new, indifferent attitude towards most tennis tournaments.
This statement, however, was difficult to believe after examining her actions both on and off the court.
During the match, she intentionally hit a ball out of the stadium in an effort to fire herself up, drawing a penalty for the move. After the match, when a fan came up to congratulate Novotna, Shriver took the man's sunglasses.