1980 – 1981, US Open
U.S. Open, New York
August 25, 1980; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $300,000; Surface – Hard
An injection of amazing self-confidence for John McEnroe. The 21-year-old American not only defended his title, but he did it in impressive style, overcoming in the last three matches his three toughest opponents, every one of them after demanding battles: Ivan Lendl (2:47 hrs), Jimmy Connors (4:16 hrs) and Bjorn Borg (4:13 hrs)! The tournament witnessed a 5-set encounter in semifinals between two biggest 5-set specialists of the Open era: Borg and Johan Kriek – the South African had a little experience in five-setters at the time though, his loss to Borg was just his fourth five-setter in career.
New York Times compilation
The fitness war began at the United States Open tennis championships yesterday. Even John McEnroe, the defending men’s champion, said he felt chills and heat at the same time from the stifling 90-degree temperature during a 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Christophe Roger-Vasselin of France. McEnroe joined Bjorn Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis among the seeded players who survived opening tests with straight-set triumphs. Borg, seeded No. 1, benefited from mid-afternoon shade on the grandstand court and needed only 1 hour 21 minutes to eliminate Guillermo Aubone of Argentina, 6-1, 6-4, 6-1. Then he said his right knee ”isn’t bad at all, no soreness at all.’ ‘This was just a warmup,” said Borg, the five-time Wimbledon champion who has never won this tournament and has had a knee problem in recent weeks, ”Every other match after this will be tough.’‘ He next faces John Sadri, a big-hitting American who served 10 aces in a four-set decision over Joao Soares of Brazil, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. The favorably sunny conditions lured a record opening-day crowd of 12,338 to the National Tennis Center. Mel Purcell, 21, the surprise runner-up at the recent United States clay championships, was too fit and steady for 33-year-old Stan Smith. Purcell won, 7-6, 6-4, 6-0. ”I haven’t played much this summer and I guess it showed,” said Smith, who committed 12 double faults, ”He kept a lot of balls in play and made me work.” Smith’s longtime doubles partner, Bob Lutz, suffered a setback last night that dampened his summer of rejuvenation. Outplaying eighth seeded Eddie Dibbs with sharply angled volleys and running forehand cross-court shots, the 32-year-old Californian led, two sets to love, and held 2 match points with the discouraged Dibbs serving at 3:5, 15/40. Dibbs recovered to duece. During a fierce exchange, Lutz, trapped in no man’s land, dived to make a backhand volley and landed on his right hand. In obvious pain, and with the crowd of 9,319 silently stunned, he lost 16 of the next 18 games and Dibbs escaped, 5-7, 2-6, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2! Afterward, Lutz told Dr. Irving Glick, the tournament physician, that the pain in the fingers of his right hand during the last three sets might have resulted from cramps rather than the fall. Vincent Van Patten bowed to Gerulaitis, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0, in the opening match in the stadium. ”He’s in great shape and he hit some great shots,” Van Patten said of Gereulaitis, who will face a formidable second-round opponent, Hank Pfister. Youth seemed to prevail in the 3-hour-50-minute, five-set match between Van Winitsky, 21, and Jaime Fillol, 34. Fillol served for 4:0 in the fifth set, only to lose in a tiebreaker, 5-7, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6. Two other matches, Bill Scanlon–John Feaver (2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6) and Peter Feigl–Dominque Bedel (6-4, 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6), also went to fifth-set tiebreakers, with Scanlon and Feigl affirming their rankings with victories, although Feaver served for the match at 5:3. Nick Saviano, who had emerged as tennis’s marathon man and reached the last 16 at Wimbledon, after losing two sets easily, had to retire in the third set against Andres Gomez because of an ailing ankle. Gene Mayer and Jose-Luis Clerc were eliminated in the afternoon. Jimmy Connors has an easy night’s work as he made his debut with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Marcel Freeman, a 19-year-old collegian who was a ball boy for Connors four years ago in his Open title match. Yesterday was a family day of sorts at the National Tennis Center, with names such as Giammalva, Jaeger, Gottfried and even a Borg popping up. But there is only one Nastase here – Ilie – and he was fined $750 for an obscene gesture in hitting a linesman with a ball during a four-set victory over Patrice Dominguez of France, 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. The Mayer on the grandstand court during the day was Gene, seeded sixth here and on the computer rankings. The day before the Open, his older brother, Sandy, withdrew with an injury. Yesterday, leading two sets to one and at 2:3 in the fourth against Gianni Ocleppo of Italy, Gene Mayer went wide for a ball, planted his left foot and ”felt something go.” What went was a left hamstring muscle, a chronic problem that has required more rest than Mayer has given it in recent months. Under the strain of hot, hard courts and humid temperatures that reached 98 degrees by late afternoon, Mayer was forced to retire at 6-2, 6-2, 6-7, 2-4. ”It’s a weakness, a tight muscle, and it tends to go,” said Mayer, the highest seeded player to fall in the first two days. Clerc, seeded No. 12, was ousted by Bernie Mitton of South Africa, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 2-6, 7-5. ”Playing on center court was a good thing,” Mitton said after the 3-hour-23-minute match. ”It pumped me up and got me going. If we had played on an outside court, he might have beaten me in straight sets.” The proudest person on the premises yesterday may have been Sammy Giammalva Sr. One day after his son Tony had taken his opening match in the tournament, Sammy Jr. made an impressive debut, with father only too happy to cart his son’s bags back to the locker room. ”It’s pretty neat, we both did it together,” Sammy Jr., who is 17 years old and America’s national junior champion, said after his 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Rick Fisher. Among seeded players, Harold Solomon, fresh from a Grand Prix tournament triumph last weekend in Cincinnati, ousted Jan Norback, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. Solomon, who next plays Nastase, has shown remarkable maturity in recent months on and off the court, perhaps as a result of his new role as president of the Association of Tennis Professionals. Confidence has always been one of Brian Gottfried‘s problems. Even after beating David Carter, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3, on the stadium court, Gottfried, who reached the semifinals at Wimbledon as an unseeded player, said he was still trying to shake his tendency to think ”negatively.” The kids were cleaning up yesterday: 16-year-old Jimmy Arias, the youngest player ever to win a US Open match, beat a qualifier, Fred Sauer of South Africa, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2, 6-2. ”He’s like my son,” said Nick Bolletieri. The financing of Arias’s career is shouldered by a sponsor, Louis Marx Jr., of the toy manufacturing company. ”He’s been a big believer in Jimmy,” Bolletieri mentioned. ”We’re probably 18 months away. If he grows another three inches or so, we have potentially a fine player.” (Arias’ record will be overcome 7 years later by Michael Chang). First round match won also 13 months older than Arias, Thierry Tulasne, who was lucky because his opponent, Tom Leonard retired while leading. Tulasne won 2-6, 6-6 ret.
For the second time in three days, Ilie Nastase was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct at the United States Open yesterday, on an afternoon when the largest crowd in the tennis tournament’s history watched John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova and Andrea Jaeger advance to the third round. Nastase was penalized 2 points in his 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 loss to Harold Solomon, and then he was fined $500 by the Grand Prix supervisor for throwing two tennis balls at the umpire. Wednesday, when Nastase beat Patrice Dominguez, he was fined $750 -$250 for an obscene gesture directed at an official and $500 for hitting a linesman with a batted ball. Apart from travel costs, Nastase’s brief appearance here has cost him $175; he has won $1,075 as a second-round loser and will pay $1,250 in fines for violating the code of conduct adopted by the Men’s International Professional Tennis Council five years ago. Nastase’s matches have been scheduled and supervised carefully to avoid a repeat of the 17-minute crowd disturbance that marked his evening match with McEnroe last year. He had requested a night date with Solomon to avoid the midday heat, but tournament officials apparently thought better of scheduling him after the cocktail hour. Nastase was annoyed that his request had not been honored, but he was even more piqued by what he called the uneven application of the conduct rules. ”I’m telling you, everybody’s swearing out there,” Nastase said. ”Nobody else gets fined. They look for my matches.” As is his fashion, Nastase became more argumentative and demonstrative after Solomon gained control. With Solomon leading 4:2 in the 2nd set, Nastase was assessed the first penalty point for delay of play. Solomon was leading 2:0 in the 3rd set when Nastase said he could not hear the calls because of airplane noise; he was penalized again for throwing the balls at the chair umpire. Afterward, the ever-playful Nastase suggested a new wrinkle in the disciplinary system, with fines levied according to which part of an umpire’s body a player hits. Before the last game, Nastase left the court to change his sweat soaked shorts, in preparation, he said, for a doubles match. He began to change while still in view of some of the 20,226 spectators, but was urged, without a point penalty, to be more discreet. Nastase switched from white shorts to yellow ones in the referee’s office with an audience of two – Alan King, the comedian who is a regular at glamorous tournaments, and an old woman who, Nastase said, ”wasn’t too excited.” John McEnroe, the defending Open champion, has had his share of troubles, defaulting one post-Wimbledon tournament with a sprained ankle and losing in the first round of another. Yesterday, after beating Steve Krulevitz, 7-6, 6-0, 6-2, he said each match increased his confidence in his physical fitness. ”As you play more and get the feeling of how you’re going to react when you dive for a ball, it makes a difference,” McEnroe said. Jimmy Connors, fitter than McEnroe or Borg, is eager to add another even-numbered Open championship to his 1976 and 1978 titles. ”Maybe I’m the only one not injured,” he said after handling hard-serving Butch Walts, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. ”I’m not just going out there and walking through it,” Connors said, dismissing the notion that the match had been a lark. ”Every time the ball comes back, I’m tested.” Vitas Gerulaitis was beaten by Hank Pfister in a fifth set tiebreaker last night. ”How does that jingle go – ‘I Love New York!’ ‘ Pfister said after holding off Gerulaitis’s comeback from a 2-0 deficit in sets before a crowd of 9,826 at the National Tennis Center. The scores were 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6(6). “I always felt I could beat him, but I never had before” Pfister continued. ”We had played four times. To beat him in his backyard has to be the second-best win of my life. The best was Jimmy Connors in Vegas.” Joining Gerulaitis as seeded casualties were Eddie Dibbs, Peter Fleming and Regina Marsikova. Gerulaitis, loser to John McEnroe in last year’s final and enjoying one of his most productive seasons, seemed to be distracted early in the three-hour match, quibbling and finally shouting obscenities at the umpire. But the Kings Point, L.I., player, seeded fifth, scrambled back and appeared headed for victory when he led, 4:2, in the decisive tiebreaker. But Pfister, a 6-foot-4-inch Californian with a good serve-and-volley game, won four of the next five points. Gerulaitis saved one match point at 5:6 with a deep first serve. Serving at 6-all, he pushed a backhand half-volley long. Pfister, whose computer ranking had slid to 40th, clinched on match point No. 2, when Gerulaitis drove a backhand wide. Gerulaitis’s practice partner, Bjorn Borg, won a strenuous second-round match over John Sadri although questions still lingered over Borg’s fitness. ”Right now, I don’t have any problems,” Borg said when asked if his tender right knee had flared up during his 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 6-0 triumph. Borg next will play Peter McNamara of Australia, then possibly Yannick Noah of France and Roscoe Tanner. ”It sure didn’t look like it was bothering him in the fourth set,” said Sadri, who won only one point in Borg’s three service games in the set. ”I thought he was moving pretty well.” But there were times in the two-hour match when Borg did not appear to be moving with his customary quickness; he was not driving off his right foot on ground strokes or serving with pace and intensity. One reason might have been the heat. Borg and Sadri played on the asphalt-based Deco-Turf II court inside Louis Armstrong Stadium at the National Tennis Center, and the temperature reached 107 degrees during the match. Borg said he got ”a little tired” in the third set and that he has been receiving ”all kinds of treatment” daily for the knee. He denied intentionally serving out the third set at 2:5, a tactic that Vijay Amritraj said helped him survive the heat. Amritraj beat Eddie Dibbs, seeded eighth, 7-5, 0-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Jimmy Arias, the 16-year-old from Grand Island, N.Y., was not strong enough for Roscoe Tanner‘s thundering left-handed serve. Tanner scored a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 second-round victory but said he was impressed with his young opponent. ”Over all, he’s going to be a very tough player,” Tanner said. ”He’s already tough.’‘ Peter Fleming, No. 9, was beaten handily by Johan Kriek of South Africa, 6-4, 6-2, 6-0, and Tony Giammalva made it three straight victories for his family by beating Leo Palin, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. The ease with which Kriek, a 5-foot-7-inch South African, handled Fleming, who is 6’5, was surprising. In the first two sets, Fleming was good on only 50 percent of his first serves. ”He was so up for his serve, he forgot how to volley,” Kriek said. He kept Fleming off balance by alternating serves and volleys. Kriek, an unseeded player, appears at home on the hard courts. He has played well here in the past, victimized by the draw. He is continually paired with Vitas Gerulaitis, a player of similar style who is a shade better. Fleming is going through troubled times. He has lost in the early rounds at Grand Prix tournaments recently, jeopardizing his top-10 computer ranking. ”I was routed,” Fleming said, in one of his less-deprecating self-assessments. Fleming has had greater success in doubles, gaining confidence from his partner, John McEnroe. Dibbs was fortunate to escape in five sets on opening night when his opponent, Bob Lutz, got cramps. He was not so lucky against Amritraj, who has improved under the guidance of Roy Emerson, the former Australian professional. ”Working with Emerson helped me 50 to 60 percent,” Amritraj said after his 2-hour 27-minute victory. ”I always felt I had the game. I had to find somebody who could help me use it the right way.” Amritraj, 26th in the computer rankings, said that at 0:4 in the second set, he gave away the last two games. But he said his strategy was to make Dibbs work hard to win them. ”That could have made the difference in the fifth set,’‘ Amritraj said. ”He was much slower then.”
At Wimbledon, the ritualistic beard belongs to Bjorn Borg, a five-time winner. As the first week of the United States Open tennis championships ended yesterday, Jimmy Connors had the fresh growth and positive attitude that could carry him to a fourth title. ”For the moment, I like it,” Connors said of his first beard, after he had made Terry Moor another straight-set victim, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1, and gained a berth in the last 16. ”I started growing it last Sunday. The baby likes it, too.” Six men are in the last 16 of the world’s richest tournament, including seventh-seeded Harold Solomon, who recovered and won in five sets from Russell Simpson of New Zealand (6-7, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2) and unseeded Eliot Teltscher, who has not lost a set in three matches. A 21-year-old Californian, Teltscher has been overshadowed by John McEnroe, a rival from junior competition. Although only 5 feet 10 inches and 140 pounds, he has strengthened his serve and ground strokes; is now 18th in the rankings and has earned $102,799 on the tour this year. Teltscher’s victims have been Scott Davis, Victor Pecci and yesterday Gianni Ocleppo of Italy, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2. Tony Giammalva of Houston had to default his third-round match against Johan Kriek of South Africa after having been hospitalized for an allergic reaction to a quinine sulfate pill that he took last Thursday night to combat post-match cramps. The pills are considered routine medication. Giammalva, 22, had been scheduled to play Kriek on Saturday but received a one-day medical postponement. He was released from New York Hospital yesterday, but only watched his 17-year-old brother, Sammy Jr., lose, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, to Bernie Mitton of South Africa. Mitton, conqueror of Jose-Luis Clerc, is Connors’s next opponent. Most of the medical focus during the first week of the $654,082 event was on Bjorn Borg‘s tender knee, even during his 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-2, 6-0 third-round victory over Peter McNamara Saturday night. But John McEnroe, the second-seeded defending champion, also has yet to show that his right ankle can withstand the challenge of a strenuous match. He won a 6-1, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 ”battle of Long Island” from Rick Meyer, a resident of Great Neck. The two played years ago in a club match when Meyer was a student at the University of Pennsylvania and McEnroe, who lives in Douglaston, Queens, was building his serve at the Port Washington Tennis Academy; Meyer won then. Now Meyer is buried at No. 173 in the rankings. But like all local players who cherish a day in the sun against a seeded star, he fought McEnroe on the Grandstand court and served three aces to close out the third set, producing the longest and perhaps loudest ovation of the tournament. McEnroe was not sharp, admitting that he has been favoring the ankle. He netted several routine overheads, a shot he seldom misses, and was slow in getting to the net to volley, the backbone of his game. ”When you’re hurt,” he said of his errant overheads, ”you don’t jump. I should be jumping two feet higher and then I’d be on top of the ball, but I’m not doing that.” If McEnroe is not at the top of his game, Connors is keen, perhaps with the realization that Borg and McEnroe are less than 100 percent fit and that he has won the tournament in even-numbered years since 1974 (left-handers have won the men’s singles the last six times). Connors, who has lost only 19 games in nine sets, said, ”Physically I’m in good shape.” While other players were criticizing the heat, hard courts, jet planes and spectator noise and movement, Connors said: ”New Yorkers appreciate breaking your back and spilling your guts. They like blood and I don’t mind giving it to them.” Sixteenth-seeded Victor Amaya was an unhappy loser to Pascal Portes of France, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(0), 6-3. For more than two sets against Francisco Gonzalez of Puerto Rico, the fourth-seeded Guillermo Vilas wondered whether he was destined to join Vitas Gerulaitis, Eddie Dibbs, Peter Fleming and Jose-Luis Clerc on the sidelines. All four were victims of middle-tier pros who lurk in the shadows, waiting for their games to rise as high as the summer temperatures. Gonzalez arrived here fresh from a victory over Connors last week in Cincinnati. His world ranking had improved from 81 to 58, and his confidence soared when he swept the first set from Vilas with five aces and then broke to take the second set. ”I’m all the time worried about these guys that have nothing to lose,” Vilas said. ”They have a goal that they want to be 40 or 50 in the world. For him, the summer was over because he’d reached his goal already.” Vilas won, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, because he did not panic. ”I was making errors, but he was making many more winners,” he said. ”I knew he couldn’t play that well all the time.” Vilas has not played particularly well since the tournament was shifted from clay to hard courts. He was overpowered by Butch Walts in a four-hour match two summers ago and was beaten by Dibbs in the round of 16 last year. But Gerulaitis’s ouster opened Vilas’s quarter of the draw, and he now has a solid chance of reaching the semifinals. The fifth day of the world’s richest tournament, which is offering $654,082 in prize money, was a sellout, with paid attendance at 17,875. Today’s daytime session was sold out 24 hours in advance. Some of the more interesting third-round matches, like Brian Teacher‘s 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 6-2 victory over Vijay Amritraj and Buster Mottram‘s marathon duel with Hank Pfister, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, were played on field courts. But Vilas, the 1977 champion on clay at Forest Hills, finally made his way into the stadium, dividing spectator appeal with Yannick Noah‘s four-set victory over Mel Purcell in the Grandstand with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 decision. Last year, after he had lost a thrilling five-set match to Johan Kriek in the grandstand, Noah, then 19, said: ”Now they come to see me because I am black. Maybe someday they come to see me because I am Noah.” That was clearly the case yesterday in the grandstand. At 6 feet 1 inch and 175 pounds, Noah, seeded 15th, is an imposing player. He beat Purcell, 21, the surprise of the summer circuit since turning pro last month, because of a stronger, weightier game. 9 of his 12 aces during the 2-hour-15-minute match came on second serves! The force of his game was especially evident when he served at 5:2 in the second set. At 30-all he double-faulted, but recovered with an ace, a deep first serve to the backhand and a forehand that Purcell returned into the net.
John McEnroe was taking his time in the locker room, waiting his turn on the stadium court when he heard that Ivan Lendl, a young Czechoslovak, was demolishing Harold Solomon. “I figured Lendl had a chance to win” said McEnroe of the rising player he will face in the quarterfinals, “but I didn’t think it would be like that. I figured it would be two and a half hour or three hours. I just went in to change my clothes and the match was over.” The 20-year-old Lendl, seeded 10th, thrashed Solomon, seeded 7th, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 in 1 hour 25 minutes, as a dazzling sun baked the crowd of 14,067. Lendl’s first advancement to a major quarterfinal. His victory over the normally steady Solomon was so swift and stunning that many observers assumed that Solomon was sick or injured. Solomon made no excuses: “After about the 2nd game, I didn’t feel I could move me feet. I didn’t feel like I had any get-and-go, so I got up and went”. Solomon, once the maven of moon balls who recently set out to develop a serve-and-volley game, stayed back and committed 26 forehand errors. “When I got on top” Lendl explained his amazing performance, “I said to myself ‘OK, let’s go and go’. I just tried to keep going the same way and it worked.” Solomon admitted: “Ivan is stronger than me. He was able to get more pace on the ball.” McEnroe, who beat Pascal Portes 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, said: “I’m starting to move better at the net. A few balls today I missed by intches.” On an afternoon when all losers were uncommonly gracious, Brian Gottfried echoed Portes’ sentiments. “If a guy plays better than you, you must say ‘Too good'” said Gottfried, after he had been beaten 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 by Eltiot Teltscher, and his sharp passing-shots. Bernard Mitton, who lost 6-7, 4-6, 4-6 to Jimmy Connors, was a game ahead until the tie-break and up a break in the second and third sets. Bjorn Borg showed no signs of his initial knee problems outplaying Yannick Noah 6-3, 6-3, 6-0. Johan Kriek and Wojtek Fibak won their matches in four sets.
Up on the scoreboard at the United States Open tennis championships yesterday, Bjorn Borg had lost the second and third sets to Roscoe Tanner and now he was trailing, 4:2, in the 4th. Staring out from under the navy blue and white headband around his long blond hair, he calmly bounced the ball twice, looked across the net and prepared to serve. ”I thought when it was 4:2,” he would say later, ”that it would be very, very difficult to win the match.” Difficult but not impossible. Difficult but yet it never occurred to Borg that he would lose. After his memorable Wimbledon final with John McEnroe almost two months ago, the Swede acknowledged that he actually thought once that he might not win. But yesterday he thought only that it would be ”very, very difficult” to win. In the end, of course, Borg won, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, as he had to do if he is going to justify the adulation that he commands. As the Wimbledon champion for the last five years, the 24-year-old Swede, is being hailed by some tennis observers as perhaps the best tennis player ever – better than Bill Tilden, better than Rod Laver, better than Don Budge, better than Pancho Gonzales, better than anybody else. But until now Bjorn Borg has never won the United States Open, and until he does he cannot be considered the best tennis player ever. ”I don’t know that Bjorn played any better this year than he did last year,” Roscoe Tanner said, referring to his win over Borg in the US Open quarterfinals ’79. ”Change a couple of points and I win in four sets, which is what I did last year.” But this year Bjorn Borg won. This year, too, he played Tanner in the sunlight of a glorious golden afternoon instead of under artificial lights at night, as he did last year. When Borg, who has been top-seeded at the Open for the last four years, complained that he did not prefer to play at night, it did not change last year’s result. But it probably influenced yesterday’s scheduling. ”It’s more easy to play during the day,” Bjorn Borg agreed. ”At night the ball comes much faster at you.” Especially the ball as it comes off Tanner’s racquet. In their 15 matches, Borg has now won 11 but Tanner had beaten him twice on cement and once indoors in addition to last year’s upset on the DecoTurf stadium court at the National Tennis Center. ‘‘If he gets his first serve in all the time,” Borg said later of Tanner, ”there’s nothing you can do. But in the fourth set he started missing some first serves.” Borg’s next opponent, Johan Kriek won last night’s quarterfinal against Wojtek Fibak in five sets. The unseeded Kriek has become the phantom of the Open. After having won his third-round match from Sammy Giammalva by an injury default, the 22-year-old South African cramped against Buster Mottram in a controversial four-set battle, after which Mottram refused to shake hands. Last night, before a crowd of 16,143, Kriek won a lively, 3-hour-55-minute match from Fibak, coming from 2:5 in the fifth-set tiebreaker after the two had traded 18 service breaks. The scores were 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(5). For the 28-year-old Fibak, it was third quarterfinal defeat in Grand Slams of 1980, the fourth and last one in total (he had never been closer to get semifinals). Borg’s duel in the sun with Tanner, before a crowd of 15,509 lasted 2 hours, 53-minutes. The American left-handers, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors survived four-set matches. McEnroe recovered after a shaky start and defeated Ivan Lendl 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 last night. Earlier in the day, Connors used an effective lob to score a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Eliot Teltscher. McEnroe’s 2-hour, 47-minute victory was his strongest performance of the tournament. With McEnroe making only 48 percent of his first serves, Lendl took the 1st set by controlling the tempo of their baseline rallies. Bu as McEnroe’s 1st-serve percentage improved, his serve-and-volley game became dominant. Even when Lendl had a break point for 3-all in the 3rd set and a double break point with McEnroe serving at 3:4, the American held service. McEnroe finished the mtach with 68 percent of his first serves, 9 aces and 15 service winners. “I wouldn’t be disappointed if I could pick up my game from the last two sets”. Connors led *3:0 in the 2nd set against Teltscher when the 21-year-old Californian sensationally managed to win six straight games forcing Connors to make errors from both wings. After having broken Teltscher for a 3:1 lead in the 3rd set, Connors opened his service game with a lob that Teltscher netted on a high backhand volley. Teltscher held a break point in that game, but Connors ripped a forehand cross-court passing-shot and never looked back.
John McEnroe outfought Jimmy Connors in a fifth-set tiebreaker yesterday and joined Bjorn Borg, another survivor in five sets, in the men’s singles final of the United States Open tennis championships. In setting up an encore to their classic Wimbledon final, which Borg won in five close sets. Borg lost the first two sets of his semifinal yesterday to Johan Kriek before reaffirming his superiority in the fifth set for the 13th consecutive time. The scores were 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1, and the victory again moved the 24-year-old Swede to within one match of his first Open singles crown in the third leg of the Grand Slam. Left-handers have won the last six men’s singles titles in the Open, and McEnroe, the 21-year-old defending champion, has been Borg’s stiffest challenger on the tour in recent years. The finest tribute to the 4-hour 16-minute duel between McEnroe and Connors was that almost all of the capacity crowd of 18,586, despite more than nine hours of continuous tennis, stayed until McEnroe served and won the last point in the tiebreaker. The scores were 6-4, 5-7, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(3). While the Borg-Kriek opener in the Stadium produced interesting patches, particularly when Borg’s surprising two-handed backhand down the line changed the momentum of the match, the 14th meeting between McEnroe and Connors was another dizzy ride on a roller coaster. There were no verbal outbursts to rival their stormy Wimbledon semifinal, which McEnroe took in four sets. But between McEnroe’s dominant serve-and-volley games and Connors’s brilliant returns, a radiant sunset engulfed the Manhattan skyline. Wide-kicking serves kept Connors on the defensive, and McEnroe controlled the pace of baseline rallies as Connors struggled with a familiar problem, short shots in the middle of the court. But as Connors began to groove service returns, which have been the backbone of his game and helped bring him Open titles in 1974, 1976 and 1978, McEnroe grew unsettled. In rapid succession bullets came back at McEnroe’s feet and down the line. The more he struggled with second serves and first volleys, the slower McEnroe trudged to the service line, annoyed by spectators wandering in the aisles, planes overhead and the electronic eye that assists service linesmen. ”He just started returning incredible,” McEnroe said. Connors escaped a set point at 4:5 and 30/40 in the 2nd set when McEnroe, perhaps too casually, drove a forehand return long. Connors held from ‘deuce’ and then broke from deuce for 6:5 with a forehand cross-court pass and a backhand pass down the line. He held serve at ‘love’ for the set. McEnroe’s shots and mind drifted. If he had not settled himself while serving at 0:2 (0/30) in the 4th set, Connors might have run out the match. ”He started missing a few balls,” McEnroe said, ”and that let me back in the match.” The 5th set produced the best shot-making of the tournament. After breaking Connors from ‘deuce’ for 3:2, McEnroe served for the match at 5:4 only to have Connors break back in another ‘deuce’ struggle with successive backhand return winners. By the time the two Americans reached the decisive tiebreaker, the 28-year-old Connors seemed almost too pumped up. Instead of trying to steady himself, he went for low-percentage shots, playing the only way he has known. An over-the-shoulder drive left Connors vulnerable to McEnroe’s volley on the first point. Connors netted a forehand volley and then drove a backhand long when McEnroe skillfully changed speeds, slowing his return. A backhand cross-court hit the tape and sailed wide, putting McEnroe safely in control, 5:1. Whether McEnroe can rebound from the marathon Connors match, the strain of a strenuous fourth-set quarterfinal match against Ivan Lendl and the five-set men’s doubles final on Friday, could determine how well he will be able to apply pressure to Borg. ”If I’m stiff tomorrow,” McEnroe said, ”that’s going to present heavy-duty problems.” Borg already has won the French and Wimbledon crowns this year, with the Australian as the final leg of the Grand Slam in late December. For two sets yesterday, however, the unseeded 21-year-old Kriek was unimpressed, playing with the same intensity that characterized surprising triumphs over ninth-seeded Peter Fleming, Buster Mottram and Wojtek Fibak. Borg managed only five points in Kriek’s first five service games and committed 14 service-return errors in the opening two sets, unable to find a rhythm for handling Kriek’s wide-kicking serves in the deuce court or his volleys. Kriek, hardly a household word on the men’s tour, is a South African who now lives in Naples, and is 29th on the computer rankings. But something seems to ignite his game in the Open; he reached the quarterfinals the last two years and the semifinals this year, a virtual phantom while beating Mottram in four sets and Fibak in another long late-night match that went to a fifth-set tiebreaker. At 5 feet 7, 1/2 inches, Kriek hardly fits the role of a giant. But his flat and kick serves are weapons that most 6-footers would envy. He can volley with touch, angle and depth, and his ground strokes are particularly effective on the hard courts that are common in South Africa and now are the surface in the Open. But finishing Borg in a three-of-five-set format can be frustrating, as Roscoe Tanner learned in the quarterfinals, after leading Borg, two sets to one and 4:2 in the 4th. Borg changed the momentum by breaking Kriek to open the 3rd set and escaped from deuce on serve to 2:0 and from 0/30 to 3:1, even as Lennart Bergelin, his coach, was muttering in a court-side box that Borg was ”somewhere else” during the match. Kriek’s last stand came in the 2nd game of the 4th set after he had broken Borg in the opening game. He reached 30-all with an angled backhand volley but succumbed to more of Borg’s service-return magic, particularly a backhand down the line that often is overlooked in the two-handed repertory because it requires such delicate readjustments in footwork and body position. Kriek, anticipating Borg’s backhand cross-court, wound up being stretched and beaten down the line. ”I wanted to get to the volley before I hit the serve,” he said. Borg has not lost a match in the fifth set since 1976. Kriek was never closer than 30-all in Borg’s three service games. ”When it comes to the fifth set,” said Borg, who won after trailing two sets to none for the fifth time in a match since 1974, ”it’s a lot of pressure, a lot of nerves. Guys don’t play as relaxed, maybe they don’t play the approach shot as well. They’re a little scared to hit through.” Kriek had talked boldly, almost defiantly, of challenging Borg: ”I though I was going to win, and that’s why I lost.” For Kriek it was first 5-set defeat after three wins, he ended his career as the biggest specialist of 5-set matches beside Borg with an 18-4 record!
What an encore! John McEnroe beat Bjorn Borg in five sets yesterday for his second consecutive singles title at the United States Open tennis championships. Two months after their five-set Wimbledon classic, which might have been the best men’s final ever, the sport’s top two pros traded firepower for 4 hours 13 minutes at the National Tennis Center. This time McEnroe won, 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-7(5), 5-7, 6-4, frustrating Borg’s bid for his first Open crown and a Grand Slam sweep of the four major championships. The match may have lacked Wimbledon’s fourth-set tiebreaker intensity and fifth-set drama in the minds of the players. But it had the same number of total games, 55; two tense tiebreakers and was especially noteworthy for McEnroe’s amazing stamina. He had struggled to a five-set semifinal victory over Jimmy Connors on Saturday night that lasted 4 hours 16 minutes and went to a decisive tiebreaker. Few athletes have been subjected to such stress under championship conditions. That McEnroe survived, after admitting that ”I thought my body was going to fall off” after the fourth set, was the strongest tribute to credentials often lost in his courtside conduct.. McEnroe won $46,000. But the top prize seemed almost secondary to a situation that saw the top-seeded Borg beaten in the fifth set for the first time in 14 matches, a span that had covered four years. It capped a tournament that, like Wimbledon, began slowly with the early emphasis on weather, but wound up in a blaze of glorious matches. Borg had fought back from deficits earlier in the tournament and won five-set matches against Roscoe Tanner in the quarterfinals and Johan Kriek in the semifinals. But he did not serve with the consistency or force that had helped him win 19 points in a row on serve against McEnroe in the fifth set of their Wimbledon final, which Borg won 8-6 in the 5th set. Borg twice served for the first set, at 5:4 and 6:5, but was broken each time, the second time at love. After he had lost the first-set tiebreaker, with McEnroe attacking his serve and putting away forehand volleys, Borg’s mind, spirit and first serves drifted. ”I don’t know what happened in the second set,’‘ he said of the span in which McEnroe ran off 13 points between the first and fourth games. ‘‘I didn’t have any feel for the ball.” Ahead, two sets to love, McEnroe was aware of his good fortune. But as Borg struggled and held serve from 0/30 to 1-all in the 3rd set and from 15/30 to 2-all, the Douglaston, Queens, left-hander knew that Borg was down, but not out. ”He gets you in that lull,” McEnroe said of Borg’s ability to rebound when it appeared that he had given up. ”Then you start going around slower and he wins a set. You don’t think he’s trying, but he’s trying to find a way to get his game back together.” Borg found a way with backhand winners down the line that opened and closed the third-set tiebreaker. When McEnroe, serving at 5:6 in the 4th set, started guessing that Borg would try to hit down the line, Borg instead went crosscourt with the backhand, broke for the only time in the set and evened the match. ”I thought I had a good chance, especially when it came to the fifth set,” Borg said. The fifth set has been Borg’s sanctuary, in which he has had some of his most majestic moments as a five-time Wimbledon and French Open champion. The last time he lost a match in the fifth set was four years ago (WCT Challenge Cup to Ilie Nastase, also 4-6 in the 5th set). McEnroe’s first-serve percentage in the fifth set was 70, which allowed him to move in for decisive first volleys. By contrast, Borg faulted 14 of his 29 first serves and double-faulted twice in the 7th game, which he lost from deuce on McEnroe’s backhand lob and his own netted forehand volley. ”I think I lost the match because I wasn’t serving well,” Borg said, unable to determine whether his problem came from the toss or a lack of rhythm. The thought of McEnroe ready and eager to rush the net could not have helped Borg’s concentration. Both carved the lines like surgeons, creating several controversial points for the five linesmen, half the number utilized at Wimbledon. In the final few games, however, McEnroe’s wide-sweeping southpaw serve was the dominant weapon, extending the reign of left-handed men’s champions in the world’s richest tournament to seven consecutive years. Serving at 4:3, McEnroe held at 15. Three of the points were won on serves, the fourth on a backhand volley placement. Borg held at love, thus forcing McEnroe to serve out the match, in the tradition of a champion. On Saturday night, Connors had broken McEnroe’s serve at 5:4 in the fifth set to send the match into the decisive tiebreaker, which McEnroe. At 5:4 against the Swede, McEnroe won the first point when Borg’s short cross-court backhand dropped inches wide. McEnroe drove a high forehand volley long, but reached 30/15 with a service winner deep to the backhand that Borg could only lift straight in the air. Two forehand volleys clinched the match. ”The intensity was higher at Wimbledon,” McEnroe said afterward, calling the title he had won the most satisfying of his career. ”There was consistency today, but I don’t think Bjorn played that well through the whole match.” ”The Wimbledon match was much better,” Borg said. ”John can play better, I can play better.” Perhaps. But McEnroe’s achievement reflected his ability to sustain an extraordinary level of excellence over a demanding stretch. On Thursday night, he ousted Ivan Lendl, one of the tour’s hottest players, in a long four-set battle. On Friday, he was back on the court in the men’s doubles final and lost in five sets. Then came Connors and Borg. ”I felt better here than at Wimbledon in the fifth set,” he said. McEnroe’s 20th title (2nd major). Stats of the final
U.S. Open, New York
August 31, 1981; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $400,000; Surface – Hard
Arguably it’s the most important tennis event in the first half of the 80s. 25-year-old Bjorn Borg, the best player of the last two seasons, notched third straight defeat in major finals as he faced his biggest rival – John McEnroe, which cost the Swede losing the No. 1 in the world. It was Borg’s ninth failed attempt to win in New York – the only big title he missed during his stellar career (Australian Open wasn’t considered as a huge title at the time; Borg never played there since 1974). These factors, entwined with personal issues, caused his retirement in the following season, he did not play another major afterwards. The new king, McEnroe became the first US Open champion in three consecutive editions since 1925!
First round: George Shirk
Top-seeded John McEnroe, the defending champion, had a bit more trouble, losing the first set before cruising past Juan Nunez of Chile, 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-3, 6-1. Afterward, McEnroe chastized his hometown audience, saying it didn’t know how to treat an American hero. McEnroe, who won Wimbledon and is ranked No. 1 in the world, and Nunez played around two rain delays, so 4 hours and 34 minutes passed between the start and finish of their match. The frequently embattled and always battling McEnroe made his return to the National Tennis Center in a not-unexpected manner. He argued with officials, and he upbraided a television sound man. And, in a new twist on temper tantrums, he scolded the children sitting behind him. Their offense: They were cheering for his opponent. “It bothers me when people say ‘Come on, Juan,’ when they’re saying it to me. I told them, ‘Fine, if you want to say that, go over to his side and say it. But don’t just say it to me. ‘It’s really disappointing how little support Americans get in general,” he said. In other openers, third-seeded Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia beat Hans Simonsson of Sweden 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, Jose Luis Clerc of Argentina, the men’s fifth seed, easily defeated Australian Brad Drewett, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Bjorn Borg, who is seeded second, was to play Marcus Gunthardt of Switzerland today. Borg, who had won five Wimbledons in succession, lost there to McEnroe in the final this year and also dropped to No. 2 in the computerized rankings. McEnroe is seeking his third consecutive U.S. Open crown. The last time a man won such a string of American championships was in 1925, when Bill Tilden won his sixth. The 22-year-old McEnroe was shocked in the first set by the hard hitting and aggressiveness of Nunez, who is ranked 193rd in the world. But, after two rain delays, sheer power wasn’t enough against McEnroe. For one thing, Nunez frequently over-hit as he grew more tired. And scampering about the court only left him more vulnerable to McEnroe’s more practiced tactics. Nunez was certainly a hero to the crowd of 14,000 after he beat McEnroe in the first set tiebreaker, coming back from a 5:0 deficit to win it, 8/6. Not far into the next set, rain forced suspension of the match and, as Nunez left the court, people applauded thunderously. The ovation was repeated when he returned later. As McEnroe entered the court, some people booed, but they were quickly overwhelmed by lusty cheers and clapping. But McEnroe’s relationship with his hometown crowds has always been touch and go, despite his victories here in 1979 and 1980. ”I like being home and I like playing here. I just wish people would get behind me,” he said. It was a remarkable performance by the 23-year- old Nunez, who has played in only a few top-flight Grand Prix tour events and who has made it to the third round only once. He was a late substitute for the first opponent McEnroe drew, veteran Bob Lutz, who is injured. In what may have been the most evenly matched struggle of the day, former champion Stan Smith triumphed over John Sadri, 5-7, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 after saving five match points. Smith, 34, won the singles title here in 1971. He is ranked 27th now after a recent string of good victories. When Bjorn Borg stands on the court at the bottom of the deep dish of the National Tennis Center, he stands on a secure base of championship credentials. Confident, relaxed and affable, Borg even at his most intense looks like a man somehow detached from pressure, like a 25-year-old on a walk at the beach. It is the look and feel of a champion, and yet Borg, who until this summer was the undisputed No. 1 tennis player in the world, is not a champion here, not in the United States. He has won the French Open six times in eight years. At Wimbledon, Borg won five straight times before losing in the final this year to John McEnroe. Yet, when he stands before the sea of 20,000 faces on the court in Flushing Meadow, he is not a champion. He is, instead, an enigma. That Bjorn Borg will find a way to lose in the U.S. Open seems to rank right up there with the eardrum-busting planes from adjacent LaGuardia Airport in the Open’s list of certainties. So it was to the surprise of no one that Borg yesterday stood before reporters after his first-round, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 laugher over Marcus Gunthardt and said what already everyone knew, “My biggest ambition now is to try to win this title”.
Second round: George Shirk
The most important match in this year’s U.S. Open Tennis Championships may well be one that was not played during the championships at all. The most important match may already have been played – two months ago, in the same National Tennis Center Stadium and on the same hard surface. The match, played July 10, was a Davis Cup battle between the United States’ John McEnroe and Czechoslovakia’s Ivan Lendl. Lendl won (6-4, 14-12, 7-5), and that alone ultimately may give him the confidence he needs to prevent McEnroe from gaining a third consecutive U.S. Open title next week. “John McEnroe is No. 1 in the computer,” Lendl said yesterday, shortly after he won a tough second-round match over California’s Jeff Borowiak. “Any time you can beat him is a great achievement, but it was good, particularly at Flushing Meadow, on this surface.” Lendl is an exciting but moody player who is ranked third in the world and is the No. 3 seed at this year’s Open. He knows that during the Davis Cup match, McEnroe was physically and emotionally drained from a Wimbledon championship performance that was marred by constant run-ins with officials. Still, the Davis Cup triumph meant that Lendl could forget his quarterfinal loss to McEnroe in the U.S. Open last year – a four-set match that was overshadowed only by McEnroe’s five-set victory over Bjorn Borg in the final. Now Lendl is preparing for another shot at McEnroe , which, if it happens, will come in the Open’s semifinal round. As Lendl proved in yesterday’s match, he is ready. Facing Borowiak was not a normal second-round draw for a player seeded third. In their only previous meeting, Borowiak had extended Lendl to three sets in a best-of-three match in Cincinnati in 1980 (4-6, 6-3, 6-3), and this year, he reached the final 16 at Wimbledon. Nonetheless, Lendl dispatched Borowiak rather easily in a 7-6, 6-1, 7-6 match that lasted just over two hours. But the score was not as important to Lendl as was the manner in which he gained the victory. “I think (Borowiak) played very well in the first and third sets,” Lendl said, “but I am happy that I was serving a lot better than I have been.” Lendl, with his angular face contorting into a sheepish grin, said he recently played a tournament in which his first-serve percentage was a paltry 15 percent – certainly not good enough to win in a U.S. Open bracket that could feature 15th-seeded Vitas Gerulaitis, 11th-seeded Peter McNamara, fifth- seeded Jose-Luis Clerc, the Argentinian whiz kid, and McEnroe. However, Lendl’s service game was brilliant yesterday. Usually reserved, he seemed content and relaxed afterward. “I need to have the first serve in to set up my forehand,” he said, “which is how I like to play.” Against Borowiak in their first set, Lendl hit 74 percent of his first serves, and some of them were hard to believe. During the middle of the first set, for instance, Lendl powered two consecutive aces past Borowiak, the first of which was powerful enough to hit the court and then bound high into the stands and into a spectator’s face. It was like watching a green hockey puck sail over the glass and into the crowd. Lendl made eight aces in the first set alone and 13 overall and did not double-fault. In the second set, he hit on 76 percent of his first serves, and in the third, on 70 percent. But it was not his serving that turned much of the pro-Borowiak Stadium Court crowd of several thousand toward Lendl’s side. Rather, it was Lendl’s spectacular passing shots that defeated Borowiak, the former NCAA champ, and excited the crowd – shots like the one Lendl made in the first set with the score tied, 4:4. Borowiak had hit what appeared to be a sure forehand winner, deep into the corner on Lendl’s backhand side. Lendl reached the ball – barely, it seemed – but nevertheless he was there in plenty of time to return a powerful backhand passing shot down the line, leaving Borowiak standing at midcourt, his racket raised toward Lendl in congratulations and his body falling backward in mock disbelief. For those in the stands who happened to see the Lendl-McEnroe encounter on the same court in July, scenes like that amounted to a repeat performance. Lendl’s passing shots, strong serves, strong play at the net and overall aggression were what cost McEnroe his Davis Cup match against Lendl, and it was the same yesterday. Asked if he felt he could win this tournament, Lendl, hollow-cheeked and typically sarcastic, only smiled and said: “I’ve won two matches. I will try to win a few more.” If he does, his road leads straight to McEnroe ‘s in the semifinals.
Third round: George Shirk
His enemy was not so much his opponent as it was his own fatigue. Fifth-seeded Jose-Luis Clerc of Argentina, who played more than seven hours of tennis in less than 24 hours, nevertheless won a stirring 6-3, 0-6, 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Mel Purcell yesterday in the third round of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Clerc fought back from consecutive 0-6 losses in the second and third sets to pull the match away from Purcell’s grasp, while much of the crowd of 20,041 watched from the stands of the stadium court at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow. In the other late-afternoon contest, Vitas Gerulaitis took a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 laugher from Harold Solomon in a match that did not live up to expectations. But even the appearances of McEnroe and Evert could not overshadow what had happened early in the day, when Purcell met Clerc at the stadium. The two men engaged in a spectacular display of tennis that featured improbable shot-making and power against a backdrop of court antics and line disputes. But in the end, it was Clerc’s tremendous endurance that helped him rally-back from what seemed like sure defeat. “Today I had so many chances to lose because I didn’t feel so well on the court,” said Clerc, who had been extended to five sets in a 4 1/2-hour match on Friday by Tim Wilkison (6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6). Clerc was obviously annoyed that he had to play the first match of the day, since he had left the court after 6 the previous evening. He said he had tried to persuade tournament officials to reschedule his match with Purcell but was refused. “They said it was not possible, no chance,” said Clerc. “When I went out on court today, I felt really bad.” But despite his fatigue, Clerc took apart Purcell in the first set, 6-3. Still, Purcell, 22, a former University of Tennessee all-American who is ranked 28th in the world, stormed back, taking two sets from Clerc by reeling off victories in 12 consecutive games. Clerc, shaken by Purcell’s assault and bothered by a short delay – caused by water leaking onto his end of the court from the stands behind him – was set up for elimination. The pro-Purcell crowd cheered every point Purcell scored, sensing that the kill was at hand. So, apparently, did Clerc. “Never in my life have I lost like that,” Clerc said later, referring to the second- and third-set sweeps. Clerc, playing without his tremendous speed during the first three sets, decided then that he would have to run if he were going to beat back Purcell, he said. So despite his fatigue in the fourth set, he did begin to run, and he immediately broke Purcell’s service with superb shot-making to every corner of the court. Still, it didn’t seem to be enough. In the sixth game of the fourth set, which was 3:2 in Clerc’s favor, Purcell broke back to climb to a 3:3 tie, after which he served for a 4:3 lead. The crucial moment of the match came in the next game, when Purcell had an opportunity to put the set – and the match – away. Working on a break point that would have given him a 5:3 lead and a chance to serve for the set and the match, Purcell squandered his chance by making an unforced forehand error into the net, giving Clerc breathing room. Another unforced error by Purcell moments later gave Clerc the game itself. “I guess I wanted him to give it ( the match ) to me, rather than to take it from him,” said Purcell, distraught. Clerc, given new life, took advantage of his good fortune by breaking Purcell in the ninth game with a forehand bullet for a 5:4 lead, then held serve for the fourth-set victory, 6-4. In the final set, Clerc, playing on the edge of exhaustion, turned to his last reserves of energy and broke Purcell immediately, held his own serve, then broke Purcell’s serve once more for a lead that Purcell could not surmount. When the match was over, both men received a standing ovation from the crowd, which continued its applause even after the two had disappeared from the court on their way to the locker room. Meanwhile, Ivan Lendl beat Mark Vines in the grandstand in another long contest, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. The match, interrupted twice by smoke from a fire in a garbage compactor next to the stadium, was constantly in Lendl’s control, despite his losing the second set. The titanic Jimmy Connors – Andreas Gomez battle, a 4-1/4-hour marathon, was one highlight. Jimmy was at his theatrical best for this one, using his special body language to exult over great shots en route to a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(5) victory. The match was reminiscent of a drawn-out duel Connors had with Adriano Panatta at the ’78 Open. Connors won that one, too, and Gomez was a spectator. “It was the only time in my life I sat through five sets – it was that good,” he remembers. Gomez, incidentally, was mistakenly introduced as a Mexican.
Fourth round: George Shirk
Anyone expecting to see 13th-seeded Yannick Noah of France do much damage to the second-seeded Bjorn Borg was disappointed. Although Noah dealt Borg his first loss of a set in the tournament in a 7-6(2) opener, the Iceman stormed back, trouncing Noah in the next three, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. And in what looked to be the most evenly matched confrontation of the afternoon, ninth-seeded Roscoe Tanner against sixth-seeded Guillermo Vilas, the only thrills for a small grandstand crowd came in a nifty 15/13 tie- breaker that closed the match with Tanner on top, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6. Fourth-seeded Jimmy Connors, whose five-set match on Sunday against unheralded Andres Gomez helped bring the Open to its first-week crescendo, systematically destroyed young Mike Cahill, an unseeded player who had upset Johan Kriek. The score was 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. “It just kept going on and on,” Tanner said on longest tie-break of the tournament. “Each one of us had chances and weren’t getting them.” On one of the last tie-breaker points, Tanner had his chance when Vilas returned a lob over Tanner’s head. Tanner raced to the ball and returned it. Vilas, standing at the net, missed the volley. “I was in a hole there and really shouldn’t have won that point,” said Tanner. “I felt a lift of confidence and morale after that.” Vilas expressed amazement that Tanner hit back nearly every shot that Vilas had offered, despite his changing tactics and off-speed shots. “If he plays like this, he deserves to be No. 1,” Vilas said. Connors had words of confidence after beating Cahill. “I played ‘wind tennis,'” he said. “Today, no matter what situation I was in, I knew I could handle it, including the wind. Like I said the other day, if I wasn’t playing good tennis before, I am now.” Vitas came, Vitas saw, Vitas conquered. And then Vitas disappeared. Just moments after pulling the biggest upset in the U.S. Open Tennis Championships thus far – a thrilling five-set victory over third-seeded Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia – Vitas Gerulaitis walked out of the National Tennis Center yesterday, hailed a yellow Rolls-Royce limousine and announced: “I’ve got to go get some groceries.” But by the time he would have reached the market, there was a deduction being made from his grocery money. Gerulaitis, the Open’s No. 15 seed, was fined $500 by the U.S. Tennis Association for skipping the post-match press conference. That was not all. Gerulaitis had been impolite even during his sensational 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Lendl. He had smacked a ball into the stands after the sixth game of the third set and was fined $750 by the USTA for abusing a spectator. The incident occurred after Gerulaitis had lost a game on his serve. In frustration, he smacked the ball toward a baseline official who had called a foot-fault on him. But the ball landed in the crowd. So Gerulaitis would be out $1,250, which could buy a lot of groceries. It was not a good day for the favorites at Flushing Meadow. The second-biggest upset was by unseeded Bruce Manson, ranked No. 74 in the world. He ousted Jose-Luis Clerc, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3, ending Clerc’s streak of 28 straight victories in Grand Prix or Davis Cup matches. Manson, who had beaten 11th-seeded Peter McNamara last week, served out the match after breaking Clerc’s serve in the eighth game of the third set to go up, 5:3. In the final set, Manson gained three match points against Clerc, a clay-court specialist, but he needed only one. Clerc’s final shot was a backhand lob that was long, and the unheralded Manson advanced to the quarterfinals. He will face Gerulaitis. India’s Ramesh Krishnan moved into the quarterfinals when No. 7 seed Gene Mayer retired after the fourth set because of leg cramps. Krishnan was two points from losing in the third set but rallied to 4-6, 1-6, 7-6, 7-5 before Mayer retired. Almost forgotten in the unusual aftermath of Gerulaitis’ match was his magnificent, gambling tennis. Nothing he might have said afterward could have improved upon the drama and color of his stunning triumph over Lendl. When Lendl dumped a Gerulaitis baseline shot into the net, ending the match, Gerulaitis dropped his wooden racket and turned to the 7,000 spectators who were stuffed into the 6,000-seat grandstand. He held his hands above his head and yelled: “Thank, you! I love you! Thank you! I love you!” The home-town fans responded with a standing ovation while Gerulaitis, his long, blond hair matted in sweat, blew kisses at them. Then he left in the Rolls-Royce. Should Gerulaitis, a New Yorker, survive in the quarterfinals against Manson, it is likely he will meet No. 1 seed John McEnroe in the semifinals. McEnroe is the other New York City-area player in the tournament, and he attracted a large share of the crowd. As Gerulaitis was dueling with Lendl on the grandstand court, McEnroe was on the adjacent stadium court, entertaining Kevin Curren. It confused many of the 20,149 spectators, some of whom tried to see both matches by running back and forth. But that was not necessary for long. McEnroe obliterated Curren, 7-5, 6-0, 6-1, and will play Krishnan in the quarterfinals. The prize match was early in the day, when Gerulaitis met Lendl. Instead of laying back against Lendl, Gerulaitis opened by rushing the net in a weird – for him – serve-and-volley tactic. It worked. Gerulaitis captured the first two sets, 6-3, 6-4, while Lendl tried to figure out where his normally consistent, powerful game had gone. But suddenly, inexplicably, Gerulaitis abandoned his strategy in the third set and kept to the baseline. It almost cost him the match. In the fourth game, Lendl broke serve on Gerulaitis, who lost his cool. Gerulaitis yelled at officials on the lines, dropped his racket and threw fits. In the sixth game, trailing by 3:2, he was called for a foot-fault, which cost him the game. That is when he took aim at the baseline judge and rocketed the ball into the stands. Unnerved, Gerulaitis dropped the set, 3-6. In the 4th set, Lendl was in control, breaking Gerulaitis’ serve in the third, fifth and ninth games to win, 6-3. The dramatic fifth set was at hand. Gerulaitis, contending with Lendl’s momentum, reverted to his strategy of rushing the net. He gained two break points on Lendl in the fifth game with the score in games tied, 2:2. Although he did not win the game, he nevertheless regained momentum. Gerulaitis then held his serve to tie, 3:3. On his first point of the decisive seventh game, with Lendl serving, Gerulaitis rushed in on the first exchange. Lendl’s return lob was long. Love-15. Gerulaitis then set up a baseline exchange, finally rushing the net and volleying back a Lendl backhand bullet for a winner. Love-30. Lendl, needing a point badly, made a crucial double-fault, giving Gerulaitis a triple-break point. Love-40. On the second try, Gerulaitis got Lendl to hit a backhand wide. With the crowd going wild, Gerulaitis then held serve to take a 5:3 lead and let Lendl hold his serve. The match stood at 5:4 in Gerulaitis’ favor with Gerulaitis serving. More drama was to come. Serving for the match, Gerulaitis fell behind, love-15, when Lendl socked a cross-court winner as Gerulaitis stood at the net. Gerulaitis then fell behind, love-30. Gerulaitis hit a service winner to get back to 15/30. He then gave Lendl the next point with a forehand that drifted wide, and it was 15/40. Facing double-break point, Gerulaitis gambled. He rushed the net after his serve and hit a volley back to Lendl. The Czech raced to the ball and returned it. But Gerulaitis was at the net and put the return away. That made it 30/40. Gerulaitis pulled back to deuce on a cross-court volley winner and then took the advantage by hitting another service winner. Serving for match point, Gerulaitis fell back to the baseline to set up an exchange. But Lendl’s backhand return hit the net, and the tingling match was over.
Quarterfinals: George Shirk
John McEnroe stood on the tennis court yesterday afternoon, with his forehead all wrinkled like a prune. “This guy,” he yelled to the crowd, “serves at 10 miles an hour.” McEnroe , obviously, was angry. Across the net, India’s Ramesh Krishnan could have smiled, because he clearly had McEnroe , the U.S. Open Tennis Championships’ No. 1 seed, on the quarterfinal ropes. He also was delighting a sun-drenched crowd of nearly 15,000 people who sat in the National Tennis Center’s stadium, giving them reason, this time, to cheer against their home-town boy. It is true that Krishnan had a lollipop serve. And yes, it is true that his game did not feature a single overpowering strength. However, Krishnan’s game also displayed no obvious weaknesses besides his serve, and thus he was driving McEnroe batty. Ultimately, McEnroe won the match, 6-7(10), 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-2, but it took him 3 hours and 27 minutes. Clearly, his game was not polished. In fact, it was the worst tennis he has played in his five Open matches, while Krishnan was playing an over-my-head, nothing-to-lose game. The return to the stadium of the other local player, Vitas Gerulaitis, paled against the McEnroe -Krishnan match, despite the fact that 18,649 paid their way in – a record paid attendance for any U.S. Open session. In the evening, Gerulaitis overpowered unseeded Bruce Manson of Texas, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, setting up a New York, New York semifinal match between McEnroe and the 15th-seeded Gerulaitis on Saturday afternoon. Krishnan’s greatest claims to fame are that his father, Ramathan, is a former Davis Cup star, and that the younger Krishnan had a streak of nine straight first-round tournament losses preceding the U.S. Open (before Canadian Open to be precise where he reached quarterfinals, the following week the second round in Cincinnati). David, meet Goliath. McEnroe, who was reasonably well-behaved and who was playing as solid a game as he has played since his triumph at Wimbledon earlier this year, didn’t expect much of a match, either. And yet McEnroe had all kinds of difficulty with Krishnan, who is ranked No. 101 in the world. Ramesh Krishnan? John McEnroe? And it was close? Well, why not? As the two battled in the stadium, it was Krishnan’s delicate, smooth game versus McEnroe ‘s power serve-and-volley game. The two styles of play clashed so violently that even a spectator wearing a plaid shirt with checked pants in Section A looked right at home. Besides that, a tricky little wind was blowing in from Long Island Sound, whipping the tennis center’s flags around in opposite directions at times. “He just dares you to do something with it,” McEnroe said of Krishnan’s serve. He dared McEnroe in the 1st set, and won after a 22-point tie-breaker. And in the 2nd set, Krishnan stood at the service line, holding a 5:4 lead in games and serving for the second set. In the tie-breaker, McEnroe broke Krishnan on the 10th point and held serve to win that, 7/4. It wasn’t over, though. In the third set, Krishnan was serving at 3:3, and he jumped to a 40-love lead on McEnroe. But McEnroe climbed right back into the game, tying it, then breaking Krishnan’s serve. If that was not the decisive game, then at least it was the one that allowed McEnroe space to breathe. After that, McEnroe never looked back, although if he had, he would have seen Krishnan close behind him. Gambling with his opportunities and often taking chances, Krishnan used a strategy of keeping the ball in play and passing McEnroe at the net. It almost worked. “I felt like I knew what he was going to do before he’d do it,” said McEnroe, “but he’d make the winners anyway. I just wasn’t moving. I was just standing there, not moving my feet at all.” “If I’d have gone down two sets, I think it would have made it tough to come back and win it in five.” Krishnan said: “If you would have told me before the match that I’d be up a set and serving for another, I’d not have believed that.” Commenting on the fact that the wind and lower temperatures actually made the deep-dished stadium cool during the match, McEnroe said, “This is the most tired I’ve ever been for not a drop of sweat.” In a quarterfinal match in the afternoon, Roscoe Tanner could teeter on the edge of elimination for only so long against the onslaught of Sweden’s Bjorn Borg. When it was over, Borg had survived, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(7). And last night, in another quarterfinal match, Eliot Teltscher could not solve fourth-seeded Jimmy Connors‘ vicious backhands and rolling momentum, and Teltscher tottered off the court a 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 victim. Connors, who was fined $400 after the match for making a “visible obscenity” gesture with his racket toward an official, turned the match for good during the first game of the second set, when he gave Teltscher a startling eight break points. But Connors would not give in, and, after 15 minutes, he finally won the game. The rest of the set took only 29 minutes. Connors, who is bidding for his fourth U.S. Open crown – he last won in 1978 – said he had hit the ball as well as he has hit it all week. Asked if he was as motivated to win this Open as any of his previous titles, Connors said: “I’ve been stuck on three for several years, and three is not my favorite number.” Connors, who stands 8-14 against Borg, last beat the Swede at the U.S. Open finals in 1978. He has lost his last nine meetings with Borg. But, as much as anything, yesterday’s tennis proved that, at least for another year, the U.S. Open itself survived. In addition to the semifinal match- up featuring the second-seeded Borg and Connors, there also is 15th-seeded Vitas Gerulaitis and top-seeded John McEnroe, whose semifinal will be a repeat of the 1979 Open final. So what was the point of playing 10 days to get here? Well, there were, after all, some good matches, not the least of which were the two men’s quarterfinals. Tanner and Borg were the first up in the afternoon session, and, as Connors and Teltscher would do in the evening, they played in front of more than 20,000 people in the Stadium. They waged a gut-wrenching match, distinguished more by its sheer brutality than any flamboyance. It was a match in which the power of Tanner’s serves was matched against the power of Borg’s returns. Tanner, for his part, staved off three match points before falling; he stormed back in a tight third set to save himself from a straight-set drubbing; he took Borg to three tie-breakers – something Borg had not faced in his entire professional career (untrue, in Tokyo ’80 Borg beat Victor Amaya 6-7, 7-6, 7-6). But Tanner did not have enough to beat Borg. In light of the way Borg played, one wonders if anyone does. “It was my best match so far in the tournament,” Borg said. “It helps to have a match like this, to survive in a match like this. If you have one match like this in a tournament, it can help you.” But it is hard to imagine Borg needing more help. He stood looking down the barrel of Tanner’s service shotgun yesterday and was unfazed, even though nearly half of Tanner’s first serves hit their target. They were the same serves that had taken Borg out of the Open two years ago in a night quarterfinal match, and they were the same serves that had extended Borg to five sets in the quarterfinals of last year’s Open. But Borg, who has never won the U.S. Open, seemed oblivious to the huge crowd and was practically unaware of the bright sun and the cool wind that whipped around the Stadium in crazy, unpredictable patterns. Borg was only aware of Tanner’s serves in the match, and when Tanner’s first-service shells landed, Borg fired them back with his two-fisted backhand. Borg’s defense won when Tanner’s volleys failed. “I felt it wasn’t my serve that hurt me,” Tanner said. “It was my first volleys. I made a lot of loose errors. I think it’s because his shots come high and kind of float on the wind. It was like trying to hit a knuckleball.” But it is not the nature of the national championships to produce a laugher of a quarterfinal, and certainly it was not in Tanner’s nature for him to give in easily, even though down in sets, 2-1, and down in games, 1:4, in the 4th. He had fought back in the third set to send it into a tie-breaker, which he had won, and now the match was on the line. Tanner held serve in the sixth game to get to 2:4, then challenged Borg in the seventh game, finally breaking Borg’s service for the first time all afternoon. But in the 10th game, after Borg had held his serve to take a 5:4 lead, Tanner again teetered on the brink of elimination. He gave up a double match point to Borg at 15/40, after missing a forehand volley wide, watching a Borg cross-court backhand skip in and watching Borg smash a backhand winner down the line, all of which offset a service ace of his own. But Tanner again held on – barely – to win the game and, ultimately, send the match into the final tie-breaker. Tanner shocked the crowd by opening with a cross-court backhand winner against Borg’s serve to take the early edge. But Borg broke back on the seventh point (so presumably Tanner led 3:0 & 4:2 in the breaker), when Tanner made a critical double-fault, one of only three he made in the match. It came down to Tanner getting a set point against Borg’s serve at 5:6 in the tie-breaker. Borg served deep in the corner. Tanner, the match on the line, hit a backhand ground stroke into the net. One point later, Tanner once again came face-to-face with a match point, this time serving at 6:7. He survived when Borg returned his second service long, but at 7:8, Tanner’s effort failed. Borg sent a backhand winner down the line to Tanner’s backhand side, and the match was over.
Semifinals: George Shirk
John McEnroe guessed right. Not once, not twice. McEnroe guessed right on nine separate occasions yesterday afternoon in the fifth set in the semifinals on the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Because he guessed right, he walked away as a winner over Vitas Gerulaitis. After four sets, the score was tied, setting up a fifth set that turned on McEnroe’s instincts as much as his tennis acumen. Gerulaitis, the 15th-seeded player, took the top-seeded McEnroe to nine break points during the final set in three separate games. But each time, McEnroe resisted and won the games instead. He guessed exactly where Gerulaitis’ shots would go. On another day, Gerulaitis’ shots might have won, but because of McEnroe’s instincts yesterday, they lost. The final score was 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, after 3 hours 47 minutes, and the last point was a particularly fitting one. Not only did the last point display the intensity with which the two New Yorkers battled, but it also reflected the frustration that Gerulaitis experienced all afternoon. With Gerulaitis receiving at 15/40 and facing the third match point, McEnroe set up an exchange that that ended when McEnroe, standing in his own service court, struck an overhead smash deep to the baseline on Gerulaitis’ backhand side. Across the court, the linesman called the ball good, but it was obviously a close call, and Gerulaitis thought it was out wide. So Gerulaitis, with the crowd on his side, confronted the umpire. The chair umpire ruled the ball good again, though, and the match was over. Gerulaitis could do nothing. He stood on his side of the court for a long time, while McEnroe stood at the net, waiting to shake hands. Finally, Gerulaitis stormed by both the umpire and McEnroe, returning only to shake McEnroe’s hand. “Yeah, I thought the ball was out, there were about three other calls that were blatantly out,” Gerulaitis said. “Usually the last point is the most important point of the match.” Gerulaitis’ pleas were to no avail. But it seemed that the match belonged to McEnroe at every critical juncture anyway. “He just guessed right each time,” Gerulaitis said. “I was just unlucky. If you can get every break like that in a fifth set, you can’t beat it.” If McEnroe wins in this afternoon’s final, he will become the first man since Bill Tilden to win more than two consecutive Open titles. Tilden won five straight titles, the last in 1925. If he guesses today as well as he did yesterday, he will bury his opponent, because his instincts were flawless yesterday, although his powerful serve and volley seemed to desert him at times. “It was a tough, and grueling match,” McEnroe said later. “Sure, the last set was a close set, and I felt I was fortunate to win it. That last ball – well, it was an unfortunate way to lose a set.” Indeed it was, but afterward, McEnroe sided with Gerulaitis in strong criticism of the United States Tennis Association, which has a system of one linesman patrolling the baseline back and forth, calling the lines. But it was not a lone call that made McEnroe angry yesterday. McEnroe, the enfant terrible of the men’s professional tennis circuit, got into an argument in the fifth set after an apparent McEnroe point was played over because a fan threw a ball onto the court during play. In his dispute with the chair umpire, McEnroe struck with his racket a shotgun microphone used by a television network when the mike man shoved it closer to him. Gerulaitis’ outburst, a violation of the “verbal obscenity” statute, cost him $750. McEnroe ‘s altercation with the umpire and the microphone cost him a broken string on his racket. In the second semifinal Bjorn Borg, seeded second, unloaded 14 aces under the lights against Jimmy Connors during a convincing 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 decision. If Borg is ever to achieve his dream of an Open title, on his 10th attempt, today’s 4 p.m. showdown may be his most opportune chance. The burden of being No.1 on the computer and of attempting to become the first three-time United States champion since Bill Tilden is with McEnroe. Free of any Grand Slam pressure, Borg sounded unusually eager and confident to renew the rivalry that has dominated Wimbledon and the Open the last two years and heightened spectator involvement in the sport. “I don’t play like this for a long time,” Borg said, after taking apart Connors. The last time Borg served that strongly, he said, was the fifth set of his 1980 Wimbledon classic with McEnroe. Borg was unaware of a telephone threat against his life that tournament officials said was received at the National Tennis Center switchboard at 5 p.m. before the match. Officials informed Lennart Bergelin, Borg’s coach, of the threat by a male caller, and additional security precautions were taken be fore, during and after the match. Borg has received similar telephone threats at tournaments in Canada and Italy in recent years. Even Connors was impressed by the dynamics of Borg’s serve. ”Tonight he served extra-special,” said Connors, a three-time Open champion, who led 4:1* (40/0) in the 2nd set only to watch the Swede hammer successive aces, hold from deuce and then break Connors with a backhand pass down the line. Again in the 3rd set, Borg trailed, *1:2, (0/40) and swept the next five points Borg managed only 47 % of his first serves, but what he hammered in dictated the flow of rallies, leaving Connors out of position and often hitting off-balance and on the run. “I started off playing well from the first point,” Borg said, contrasting last night’s tidy 2-hour-19-minute semifinal with his two-set deficit against Connors at Wimbledon that required an exhausting five-set comeback. Borg lost in four sets to McEnroe at Wimbledon and also in five sets at last year’s Open final.
Final: George Shirk
John McEnroe frustrated Bjorn Borg in four sets yesterday and won his third consecutive United States Open singles title. The 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory in 2 hours 39 minutes, made McEnroe the first player since the legendary Bill Tilden (1920-1925) to win three straight national crowns. It also assured him the No. 1 ranking for the year, widening the gap between other challengers. But the fury and dimension of previous McEnroe-Borg duels were missing in this match at the National Tennis Center. The match ended in strange circumstances, with McEnroe kissing his mother and happily greeting his father on the court, but with Borg leaving before the traditional awards ceremonies. Borg, despondent, had lost an Open final for the fourth time and had been unsuccessful for the 9th time in his quest for the elusive title. As he left, he was surrounded by seven city plainclothes officers because of another telephoned death threat received earlier in the day. The first, by an anonymous male caller, came on Saturday, 90 minutes before Borg beat Jimmy Connors, in the semifinals. Borg was informed of the threat by Lennart Bergelin, his coach, after the Connors match. Neither Bergelin nor Borg knew of the second threat. According to Ed Fabricius, a tournament official, it was received at 4:45 p.m. at the center’s switchboard, about the time Borg was taking the first set from McEnroe, who watched part of the Borg-Connors match on television after his five-set victory over Vitas Gerulaitis on Saturday, said he was aware of the first threat against Borg. Asked if he thought that Borg might have been distracted yesterday because of the threat, he said, ”It’s possible. It seemed like he didn’t play his game,” said McEnroe, the left-hander from Douglaston. Borg went directly from the court to the locker room, skipping the post-match news conference. He showered and left the center through a dark back stairwell, led by security men. His mother, father and maternal grandfather, who were attending the Open for the first time, returned to Borg’s home in Sands Point, with his wife, Mariana. ”Bjorn was very disturbed about losing,” Bob Kain, his representative for the International Management Group, said last night, ”and he was concerned about the death threat, enough that he wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.” The Open has haunted Borg over the years, as Wimbledon became Ken Rosewall‘s competitive graveyard. No right-hander has won the men’s crown since 1973. McEnroe said of Borg, five times a winner at Wimbledon and six times at Paris: ”This is the only place where he’s put so much pressure on himself.” McEnroe, who received the $60,000 singles prize, plus a $6,000 bonus from the Grand Prix, knows how to put pressure on Borg, particularly on fast surfaces like grass, indoor carpets or the DecoTurf II asphalt here. The pressure comes from Borg’s knowledge that McEnroe can hurt him in many ways – with his high-kicking left-handed serves, penetrating first volleys and attacking game. And while Borg was able to bury Connors with 14 aces and grooved ground strokes at one speed, he was now up against a player who was content to hit deep, off-speed shots in rallies, ”junk” that frequently induced Borg into uncharacteristic unforced errors, or allowed McEnroe to pick the time for aggression. The serve has become the most important element in their matches. Borg won the 1980 Wimbledon five-set duel by dominating the finish with 19 service points in a row; McEnroe’s serve was the decisive weapon here last year in five sets, and again in a four-set triumph at Wimbledon. Yesterday, Borg managed 72 % of his first serves in the 1st set, to McEnroe’s 48, and the Swede got a break to ‘love’ in the 7th game. But in the next three sets, Borg got in only 40 of 81 first serves (49 %) hardly consistent enough to keep a player of McEnroe’s talent from dictating the flow of rallies. At *2:5, 30/0 in the 2nd set, Borg served a double fault, and then another to drop the set; he had seven double faults in the match (the American the same). The diversity of McEnroe’s game, often overlooked because of his serve-and-volley skills, was never more evident than in the eighth game of the 3rd set. That game seemed to drain Borg. He broke serve for a 3:2 lead, then held for 4:2. McEnroe held and opened the 8th game with a crisp backhand cross-court pass, a crunching shot that can restore confidence. Borg evened at 15-all when McEnroe’s forehand went wide. Then Borg attacked and positioned himself near the net. Instead of trying to drive the ball directly at or past him, as Roscoe Tanner had attempted to do unsuccessfully in a four-set quarterfinal loss to the Swede, McEnroe used a delicate offensive weapon, the forehand topspin lob. Last year, McEnroe said, friends told him that he had forgotten about the lob. ”When Bjorn comes in,” he said later, ”he stands close to the net, and if you hit the lob right, there’s a good chance you’ll get the point.” At 15/30, Borg again moved in aggressively. This time McEnroe answered with a backhand cross-court pass. As if to drive home the message that he could combine force and t ouch more than once, he lofted a forehand topspin lob over Borg for the break point, held serve with no rallies to ‘love’ and broke him in the 10th game for the set. Borg might not have been the same player after the eighth game, seemingly dispirited that McEnroe had dissected him so deftly, and uncertain whether to stay back or attack. But McEnroe’s confidence soared. ”That’s one of the best games I’ve played on someone else’s serve in a long time,’‘ he said, reflecting that ”suddenly, I felt I could hit just about any shot.” Borg was never in the 4th set. He lost his serve at 15 in the 4th game, broke McEnroe to put the set back on serve, but then sent two backhands past the baseline at 30-all. He saved two match points from 15/40 in the 8th game. McEnroe opened the ninth with a double fault, then played a lucky backhand volley and took the next three points on serves that Borg could not handle. The capacity crowd of more than 18,000 brought the total attendance for the $1-million tournament to 351,424, a record. Anne Smith won two doubles titles, women’s and mixed, with Kathy Jordan and Kevin Curren as partners. At a time when many players have spurned doubles because of its commitment, McEnroe collected $13,200 as doubles champion (with Peter Fleming) and Miss Smith $26,040 for her showing as singles quarter-finalist and her doubles titles. That McEnroe was alone among the four semifinalists who combined singles and doubles, doing it successfully at Wimbledon and here, was another tribute to his talents. McEnroe’s 33rd title (4th major). Stats of the final
Fantastic specially the piece on my countryman Juan Nuñez.
McEnroe vs. Connors
McEnroe vs. Borg
McEnroe vs. Gerulaitis
McEnroe vs. Borg (Italian)