Kevin Curren has reached the semifinals of a two-week tournament for the first time since 1985, and he'll be rewarded with a match against top-ranked Ivan Lendl.
Curren and Lendl meet Friday at the International Players Championships. Yannick Noah plays Thomas Muster in the other semifinals match.Some might regard playing Lendl as punishment rather than a reward. But Curren has two victories in eight matches with the Czech.
"I've had some success against him," said Curren, seeded 13th. "I have to be moving extremely well, and I have to be sharp. If I am, I can give him trouble."
Curren won three five-set matches in early rounds and then swept No. 11 Emilio Sanchez in Wednesday's semifinals, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. Curren had eight aces and won all 13 of his service games.
Curren, 31, last reached the semifinals of a two-week tournament in 1985, when he was runnerup to Boris Becker at Wimbledon.
"I'm happy to get this far," Curren said. "Winning matches over five sets makes a helluva difference. The key is that I've been more positive."
In Wednesday's other matches, Lendl swept No. 10 Aaron Krickstein, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2; seventh-seeded Muster beat Jim Grabb of Tucson, Ariz., 7-5, 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 6-0, and No. 12 Noah swept unseeded Carl Uwe-Steeb of West Germany, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.
Lendl, 17-0 on hardcourts this year, has yet to lose a set after five rounds.
"I haven't been under pressure or in trouble," said Lendl, who has sharpened his golf game on his days off. "I'm having fun down here. I even broke 80 once, so what else can I ask for?"
Against Krickstein, Lendl had 13 aces and held all 12 of his service games.
"I was pleased with the way I was serving, especially when I was down love-30, and 15-40 once," Lendl said. "I got out of it with big serves, and that's good for your confidence."
Krickstein held a 2-1 lead in the first set, but Lendl won the next seven games to take control of the match. Noah has reached the quarterfinals in each of this tournament's five years, but he has never played in the finals.