Michael Stich said he choked. Ivan Lendl said, "Thank you."

Lendl, who advanced to the U.S. Open semifinals with a 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory Thursday over Stich, the Wimbledon champion, next will face Stefan Edberg."I'm not angry, I am just disappointed," said Stich, who captured the first three points of the tiebreaker before Lendl ripped off six straight to take control of the match. "I still had the one tiebreaker in my mind.

"I had the two break points in the next game and I just choked. I just couldn't make it. I just didn't concentrate, just missed like three, four easy balls in a row."

It is Lendl's ninth trip to the U.S. Open semifinals in 10 years. He has won the title three times.

The match began Wednesday night and was halted twice by rain. The second time play was stopped until Thursday with Stich leading 3-6, 6-3, 4-3, 40-15 and up a service break. When play resumed Thursday, Stich powered his way to a 2-1 lead in sets. The two battered away in powerful baseline battles, using every inch of the court, trying to maneuver the other out of position for a lightning-quick groundstroke to close out the point.

Neither wilted, each holding serve and sending the fourth set into the tiebreak. Each won only nine points on the other's serve in the set. But at the time, Stich appeared the stronger and more confident of the two.

Lendl dropped his serve to begin the tiebreak, flailing a backhand wide. And when Stich won the next two points on his own serve, he had a 3-0 lead - four points away from the semifinals.

"I played well in the fourth set," Stich said. "I served well. I played good serve-and-volley and played good in the tiebreaker until it was 3-0. Then I lost it totally."

That was when Lendl came to life. He won six straight points - actually seven, but the umpire overruled a line call that went in Lendl's favor and ordered the point replayed.

And when the string was finished, Lendl led 6-3, triple set point. Stich saved the first two on his own serve to pull to 6-5 before Lendl sent the match into a fifth set when Stich sailed a backhand long. Lendl pumped his fist. Stich angrily threw his racket to the ground.

Buoyed by his fourth-set victory, Lendl jumped on Stich's serve to begin the final set, taking a 15-40 lead. It was Lendl's first break point since the first set, when he broke Stich. And he did it again when Stich double-faulted.

The next time he served, Stich held at love, slamming his 10th and 11th aces of the match. It was a futile gesture as Lendl ripped through the final four games.

"I was the underdog," Lendl said. "I was taking chances. I prefer not to come back; I prefer to win while ahead.

"After the tiebreak, he was frustrated mentally. Yesterday I made no impression on his serve; today I was aggressive."