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COURIER WEARS DOWN KORDA IN DEFENDING FRENCH OPEN TITLE

SHARE COURIER WEARS DOWN KORDA IN DEFENDING FRENCH OPEN TITLE

Nothing fancy. Just another typical Jim Courier performance - steady, powerful and unbeatable.

Courier wore down a nervous Petr Korda 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 Sunday to win the French Open for the second year in a row, strengthen his grip on the No. 1 ranking and move halfway to a Grand Slam.When Courier won the Australian Open in January, he celebrated by jumping into the Yarra river. This time, he paid a golf-swing tribute to Johnny Carson in a courtside box and gave his acceptance speech in French.

"There wasn't anything around to jump in, so I'll make do," Courier said. Referring to the Seine, he said, "It's not close enough. If if was across the street, we would have made it two for two."

Courier said his third Grand Slam title is as sweet as the first two. Cradling the winner's trophy, he said "it's just nice to have your name stenciled on something that beautiful.

"It is extraordinary. The Grand Slams have such a deep feeling. When you finally get through them and win one, it is really hard to describe. It's just an adrenaline rush."

Courier said he came to Paris not with the aim of defending his title but of adding a new one.

"I didn't know how I was going to be coming in to play again here after last year," he said. "I wasn't sure how I was going to react mentally. I am very proud of the way I went out there and played to win, instead of not to lose."

The match had none of the drama or excitement of Saturday's women's final, in which Monica Seles beat Steffi Graf 6-2, 3-6, 10-8.

The women's match lasted two hours and 43 minutes; Courier demolished Korda in just 1:59. It was the most one-sided men's final since 1988 when Mats Wilander beat Henri Leconte by the same score.

Korda said Courier played "like a machine." But it wasn't a case of Courier playing spectacular tennis.

Instead, the tone of the match was set by Korda, who showed flashes of brilliance early but eventually succumbed to nerves (many), unforced errors and double faults

"I knew how I was going to play but it was a big question mark how he was going to play," Courier said. "I didn't know how he was going to react ... I think he reacted on the tight side rather than coming out free-swinging."

The 24-year-old Czechoslovak with the scrawny body and spiky hair tried mixing up the pace in the first set, hitting drop shots, line-drive backhands and looping forehands.

But Korda, who had never before gone past the third round of a Grand Slam tournament, said he couldn't sustain any momentum because he was overwhelmed by the occasion.

"I think I played big feet today," he said. "I tell you I was very nervous. My hand is still tight. I

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couldn't play my game. I was trying everything, but nothing was working. My body didn't work too much today."

Korda's double faults were especially devastating. There were three games in which he double faulted twice.

"I have never hit so many double faults in my career," he said.

If there was a turning point in the match, it may have been when Korda hit back-to-back double faults to lose serve after breaking Courier for a 2-1 lead early in the second set. In the previous game, Korda had broken Courier with an overhead, letting out a scream and gesticulating to the crowd.

"I was feeling emotional and then I start to serve and I was stiff like wood," Korda said. "I couldn't swing. I felt I am getting back a little bit and I couldn't hit the first ball over the net."

Courier took advantage of Korda's lapse, winning five straight games to win the set, losing only six points in the process.

The two were even on serve in the third set until another pair of Korda double faults allowed Courier to break for 3-1. Courier went on to wrap up the match quickly.

Courier ended with a serving flourish, hitting back-to-back aces to bring him to match point. The contest ended with Korda hitting a backhand into the net.

With the match over, Courier staged a different type of performance.

He turned to Carson, wearing a white cap in the front row behind the court, and imitated the golf swing which the "Tonight Show" host made famous. Carson, who recently retired, laughed.

"It was kind of impromptu," Courier said. "Every time Petr would serve to me, I would see Johnny right behind him. I saw a lot of Johnny today, but I didn't get to see his last show and I was a little distraught about that. It was kind of nice for me to be on the stage and having him watch, after I have watched him for years and years."

Then, after running off the court to share a few words with his coaches, Jose Higueras and Brad Stine, Courier returned to receive the winner's trophy from Jean Borotra and Rene Lacoste - two of the famed French Musketeers who dominated tennis in the 1920s and 1930s.

Taking the microphone, Courier, who has been studying French, got the chance to show his skills to the center court crowd of 16,500.

"Alors," he began, "Je voudrais dire un petit discours en Francais." (OK, I'd like to give a little speech in French).

He offered "un grand merci" to the fans, ballboys and umpires. Then he brought the house down by saying, "Excusez-moi, je parle comme une vache espagnole" - which translates literally as "I speak like a Spanish cow," an expression used for someone who butchers the language.

"That's enough for the French," he said. "I'm trying."

Courier's next effort will be to try to win Wimbledon, the third leg of the Grand Slam beginning in two weeks. No man has won all four Grand Slam tournaments in one year since Rod Laver in 1969.

Courier, whose game is not perfectly suited to the grass at Wimbledon, said he would not be thinking about the Slam.

"I will start hitting on the grass and then I will start worrying about that first round match right away," he said. "I am not worried about anything else."

Courier won $475,303, while Korda earned $237,651.