1982 – 1983, Wimbledon
June 21, 1982; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $500,000; Surface – Grass
The first Wimbledon in nine years without Bjorn Borg, who played finals in six previous editions grabbing five titles. It created a unique opportunity for Jimmy Connors’ resurgence. He had lost four matches to Borg at Wimbledon in five past years, claimed his 6th major – the first one since 1978, beating fellow American John McEnroe in a tight, but rather ugly 5-set battle, despite committing 13 double faults not having served an ace. The only Wimbledon in which all fourth round matches were concluded in straight sets.
First round: Steve Goldstein
Storm clouds gathered and rain interrupted play, but John McEnroe presented a sunny disposition and first-rate tennis as he began his defense yesterday of his Wimbledon title with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 beating of childhood friend Van Winitsky. Joining McEnroe in the winner’s circle were second-seeded Jimmy Connors, Vitas Gerulaitis, Sandy Mayer, Roscoe Tanner and Sweden’s Mats Wilander, who became an instant favorite of the English teenagers. But an opening day at The Championships, as they are called, would not be complete without a few seeds falling. Stan Smith – at 35 the second-oldest man in the singles draw, behind Ilie Nastase – obliged nicely with a 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(6) win over Italian champion and ninth-seed Andres Gomez of Ecuador. Tenth-seeded Yannick Noah also fell by the wayside, but he withdrew with an injured hamstring. The Frenchman decided it was more important to rest and be fit for France’s Davis Cup showdown with Czechoslovakia in two weeks. Only the crowds were off Wimbledon form. Perhaps it was the strike by subway employees or perhaps large numbers were drawn to St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, where Diana, Princess of Wales, had gone into labor. Some 23,000 came to the All England Club, down nearly 10,000 from last year. The rain delay of an hour and three-quarters during the day’s first matches was sufficient to require the postponement of nearly half of the men’s first-round matches until today. Neither McEnroe nor Connors was bothered by the interruption. The No. 1 seed looked particularly sharp in trouncing Winitsky, making very few errors off the ground or at net. His troublesome left ankle was not a factor, McEnroe said. “I’m trying not to think about it,” he said. “It’s not 100 percent, but it is getting better. If I lose here, I don’t want to use it as an excuse. It just feels a lot better than it did at Forrest Hills, before I skipped the Italian and French Opens.” McEnroe was also a model of decorum on Centre Court. The chair umpire was even moved to smile at the tempestuous New Yorker a couple of times. McEnroe said he was “trying to be aware of what can happen here and how things can get out of hand.” Connors concluded his 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 romp over South Africa’s Michael Myburg only minutes after McEnroe. He said he was pleased with the way he hit the ball and expected to improve his shot-making as the tournament progressed. The one marked difference in Connors’ play is his improved serve, which was a major factor in his beating McEnroe at Queen’s Club last week. “I’ve been working on my serve,” Connors said. “Basically, I’m tossing the ball out in front of me more and I’m leaning into it. This also has been taking me to the net a bit more. But I’m not going to give up my baseline play.” Connors admitted that this may well be his last best chance to win here. ”Sure my time’s running out,” he said. “I’m not 22, I’m 30. But I’m not looking in reverse.” Gerulaitis, the third seed, overwhelmed O. B.Pirow of South Africa in straight sets, and the 14th-seeded Tanner did likewise with Henri Leconte, the rapidly improving Frenchman. No improvement has been more rapid than that of this year’s Swede, Wilander. He has said he will be happy making it to the third round, but the way he beat Heinz Gunthardt in four sets (6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3) leads one to believe he will go further. He has not had much work on grass, so Wilander is flirting with a kind of bastardized serve-and-volley game. His strength is still from the baseline and that is still where he will win or lose the match. Wilander was accorded Centre Court status because of the curiosity stemming from his victory at the French Open, but he steadfastly resists any comparison to that other Swede. “It’s stupid,” he said, “to compare me with Borg. He’s one of the greatest players ever.” Perhaps the day’s best match was on Court Two, which has often been the site of upsets, many due to bad bounces on the lumpy grass. The grass was a little soft yesterday, but it was Stan Smith’s spirit that knocked off Gomez, not some lucky bounces. “I was kind of mentally tired and frustrated by the end of the match,” he said. “I was not looking forward to a fifth set. It was one of those matches where I just decided to fight hard out there – gut it out – because I wasn’t going to win on just skill.” Smith who is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his only Wimbledon singles title in 1972, is playing in only his third Grand Prix Tournament since his elbow was operated on Nov. 17. He picked a good time for his first singles win. Gomez is perhaps Ecuador’s greatest player since Pancho Segura. At home on clay, Gomez decided to play Wimbledon a week ago and did not get much practice on grass. “In five years I will learn,” he said. Leading two sets to love, Smith’s serve faltered and while serving for the match at 5:4 in the third, Gomez came up with three outright winners to take the game. In the fourth set, Smith was up a break at 4:2 but not serving well. Gomez got the break back for 4:4. In the 12th game, Smith served a bit better and saved two set points against him. You could see his shoulders sag with relief when it went to a tie-breaker. Again Smith lived dangerously, giving Gomez two set points in sudden death, but Gomez made two errors to square it at 6:6. Smith made a brilliant service return to get his first match point. His next serve kicked in on Gomez, who twisted around to backhand it. The ball went flying over the net to a charging Smith, who, luckily for him, stumbled and fell under the ball, which passed over the baseline. It was a tough way to win. Chip Hooper, who burst into tennis prominence five months ago at the Pro Indoor in Philadelphia, yesterday became the toast of Wimbledon with a scintillating upset of eighth-seeded Peter McNamara, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The Court One thriller marked Hooper’s debut at Wimbledon and only his fifth pro match ever on grass. “Wimbledon is such a big thing,” an elated Hooper said afterward. ”It’s kind of like a big picture show. At other places, I’ve always felt like I was playing tennis tournaments. But here… this is like playing on a different planet.” The unfortunate McNamara might well agree, for many of the 6-foot-6 Hooper’s serves had an interplanetary look about them as they traveled at light speed into the grass. Hooper said it best: “When my big serve was working – boom – he was fighting for life to get them back.” At times Hooper’s serve seemed a real menace to life and limb, as the baseline officials dodged his bullets. When they rotated in a new crew, someone remarked, “They’re bringing in linesmen who don’t have families.” Hooper’s booming serve – which has been clocked at 135 m.p.h. – and his generally consistent net play overwhelmed the error-prone McNamara, an Australian who is ranked 13th in the world. Serving at 4:1 in the fourth set, Hooper remembered where he was playing and his nerves got rattled, allowing McNamara to break his serve twice and draw even. But the big American broke back for 5:4 and served out the match at 30, leaping high into the air to crash down a desperate final lob from McNamara. Hooper smashed a ball into the stands in triumph. “It was a great match,” said the victor, who is ranked 23d in the world. “I haven’t really accepted the fact that I’m playing Wimbledon – but maybe I will after three or four beers.” Ilie Nastase packed them into No. 2 court for his first round match. Unshaven for several days, he looked mean and menacing, but 23-year-old American Lloyd Bourne swept him efficiently aside 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Brian Teacher came back from a 0:5 deficit in the tie-break ousting Shlomo Glickstein 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Second round: Steve Goldstein
Perhaps they intended to give John McEnroe a head start on the rest of the field, hoping he would lose and go away. Whatever the reason, McEnroe advanced to the third round of the Wimbledon tennis championships yesterday, with 32 men yet to strike a ball that mattered. The defending champion defeated South Africa’s Eddie Edwards, 6-3, 6-3, 7-5, on yet another day where rain forced an abbreviated program. Most of the matches between unseeded women were completed, but the women’s seeds and nearly one-fourth of the men have yet to play. It seems inevitable that the tournament committee will be forced to start play on some days before the hallowed time of 2 p.m. “For my first Wimbledon, it was pretty awe-inspiring to play on grass against Nastase on Court 2,” Lloyd Bourne said after a 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 5-7, 6-3 win over Cassio Motta. “I had a slight attack of nerves, but this was one of my best days so far, and I have no complaints.” Looming in Bourne’s future is McEnroe, who did not have a good day against Edwards with either his tennis or his temper. Despite 13 aces – six on game points – the No. 1 seed served erratically and made an inordinate number of volleying errors. “I’m probably lucky to win, and Eddie didn’t play that well,” McEnroe said of the two-hour match. “I was frustrated the way I played today.” When McEnroe is frustrated he often takes it out on others, and umpire George Armstrong was the victim yesterday. McEnroe had several squabbles with Armstrong. None was serious, although he did receive his first conduct warning of the tournament. The warning was for “Abuse of Ball,” and came after McEnroe had opened the third game of the final set by netting an easy volley. The volatile New Yorker slammed a ball into the net in disgust, and it skipped over the net cord to the other side. “Code violation. Warning, Mr. McEnroe. Abuse of Ball,” intoned Armstrong. Blimey if Jimmy Connors isn’t actually laughing. Enfant terrible turns pere adorable, as we continental types say. From baby brawler to congenial daddy hardly constitutes a unique journey for any part of mankind. The world is full of snarling punks ultimately becalmed by fatherhood. But nobody ever figured it would happen to a kid who in his howling heyday made John McEnroe’s act look almost Sunday-schoolish. The ex-tough from still-tough Belleville, Ill., really must want his first Gentleman’s Singles championship at Wimbledon since 1974, when he qualified for the trophy if not the description. Connors came out for his second-round match Thursday with a fresh serve and pearly-whites showing ear-to-ear. When Centre Court’s crowd exploded in applause, Patti’s husband and two- year-old Brett’s dad not only bowed, but broke out with a huge smile. When 6-3 opponent John Alexander draped an arm over Connors’ shoulders to accommodate photographers, Connors, only 5-10, playfully strained upward on tiptoe. And when his 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 triumph finally was history, he yukked it up in the press-room. “How do you compare yourself with ’74?” he was asked. “You mean that that was my peak and everything else has been a valley?” he said, and burst out laughing. This is the 29-year-old version of the blustering youth with a wharf-rat’s survival instincts. It is true that Connors had every reason to think he could relax against Alexander, 30. He had lost only one of 24 sets to the Australian in 10 matches, including a ’78 Wimbledon fourth- rounder. The explosive Chip Hooper lost to New Zealander Russell Simpson 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 6-7, 11-9 of a match that had been halted by darkness after four sets on Saturday. And Brian Gottfried lost to unheralded Nick Saviano 6-7, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 in a match carried over from Thursday. Gottfried was up, two sets to none and 5:2, on Thursday, then proceeded to lose five straight games before play was stopped. Yesterday, Saviano finished off the amazing comeback by taking the last two sets. Gottfried, seeded No. 13, was the only seeded player to fall yesterday. It was 6th and last Grand Slam defeat for Gottfried despite a two-sets-to-love advantage (it’s a record when I write it during Roland Garros ’13). Hooper just missed being seeded here, and he was playing a man ranked only No. 89 by the Association of Tennis Professionals’ computer and who lost to him two weeks ago in another grass-court tournament. Yesterday, they played even to 9:9 in the fifth, each serving and volleying well. Simpson held serve for 10:9, but Hooper missed two volleys from 30/15 to give Simpson a match point, then followed with a third volley error to end his Wimbledon. ‘‘I missed three volleys in one game, that’s all there is to it,” Hooper said. “It’s disgusting.” Hooper said that he expected to get to “the semis, finals or win. This is not what I expected. I knew I could do well here and didn’t.” Vitas Gerulaitis rallied from a shaky start for a 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Bruce Derlin of New Zealand; Johan Kriek fought back from the brink of elimination to beat Peter Elter of West Germany, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4; and Christopher Mottram, the last British entry in either singles, defeated Victor Amaya, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Hank Pfister ousted Stan Smith, the 1972 champion, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6.
Third round: Steve Goldstein
In the fading light of an English summer evening, Jimmy Connors yesterday ended the dream of an unknown from California who deemed it an honor merely to be on the court with him. It will be recorded that at 9:28 p.m. yesterday, after slightly more than three hours of play, Connors, the No. 2 seed, defeated Drew Gitlin, a qualifier playing in his first Wimbledon, by the scores of 6-2, 6-7, 7-5, 7-5. What won’t show on the score sheet is the heart showed by Gitlin in front of 7,000 spectators on Court No. 1. “What a trip!” said Gitlin, who, though disappointed he had lost, was confident that he had given it his all. “I’m nervous. Pleased. I guess any athlete always feels he can win. If you don’t, you shouldn’t be out there.” Gitlin, 24, turned pro last October, after making the semifinals of the NCAA championships in his senior year at Southern Methodist. He has struggled in his first year on the tour, drawing seeded players in the first round nearly everywhere. Yesterday, he proved he belongs. “My parents are here,” Gitlin said, “and I think I made them believers, too. I think they’re in shock.” Connors, who was off his game, played heroically himself. He saved three break points in the 11th game of the third set. Had any one of them gone the other way, Gitlin would have been serving for the set. Connors also played well on the big points in the fourth set. “I was just more or less going on instinct,” he said, referring to the deepening twilight. “The last few games were pretty rough. I could see the scoreboard, but that’s about it. That’s what I was going on.” In victory, Connors could afford to say that the match had given him much-needed practice after three days without competition. He admitted that he had played poorly – rendering his opinion by holding his nose – but he said that the tough match would serve him well later in the tournament. Neither player wanted to see the match suspended, even though play had stopped elsewhere on the grounds of the All England Club. Perhaps Connors had noted the surprising results of two suspended matches completed yesterday. The men just about completed the final 16 with all the remaining seeds getting through. Vitas Gerulaitis, the third seed, provided some anxious moments as he rallied from two sets down to defeat Thomas Smid of Czechoslovakia 6-7, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Gerulaitis’ next test will come today against Roscoe Tanner, who turned back Vijay Amritraj in the fifth set after the Indian had come back from two sets down. The Tanner-Amritraj match earned the greatest applause of this tournament because of the quality of play and the good sportsmanship. Tanner summed up the crowd’s response. “Vijay and I are competing,” Tanner said, “But we enjoy what we’re doing.” “Last year I just wanted to win a match here,” said Gerulaitis. “This year, I’d like to do a bit better.” Sandy Mayer had an uneasy feeling when he noticed that Tim Mayotte was in his quarter of the draw. It was Mayotte, after all, who put the favored Mayer out of Wimbledon in 1981. This year looked to be different. At least from the crest of a two-sets- to-love, 4:3 wave that the fourth-seeded Mayer was riding yesterday. But the law of gravity and Mayotte’s inspired play pulled him down, and Mayer dropped the next five games and, eventually, the match. “I started a little tight,” Mayotte said of his 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory, “but it was just a matter of loosening up and having the courage to go for the shots.” Mayotte’s triumph thrust the Massachusetts native into the final 16, where he has a date with England’s Buster Mottram. Mayotte made a few volley errors in the first set that gave Mayer the only service break he needed. In the second, Mayer simply outplayed his opponent in the tie-breaker. By now, Mayotte decided he wasn’t being bold enough and began hitting out – “going for the lines,” as he said. Aggressive play enabled him to win the third and fourth sets. In the fifth he broke Mayer’s serve at 4:4, and that decided the match. Russell Simpson won third match in a row in five-setters as he ousted Marcos Hocevar 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
Fourth round: Steve Goldstein
John McEnroe scored a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Hank Pfister and will meet Johan Kriek, a straight-set winner over Nick Saviano. That was not the end of McEnroe ‘s troubles. He got another warning in a second-round doubles match when he and Peter Fleming barely hung on, saving three match points at 4:5 in the third set, to edge Rod Frawley of Australia and Chris Lewis of New Zealand, 7-6, 3-6, 8-6. Both McEnroe and Pfister received conduct warnings in their ill-tempered match, and McEnroe got another warning in his doubles match later in the day. Jimmy Connors and Vitas Gerulaitis, the second and third seeds, each had exceptionally easy matches. Connors lost only six games in ousting Paul McNamee and now must play Gene Mayer, a winner in six straight sets over Steve Denton. Gerulaitis rolled over Roscoe Tanner, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, and moves on to an encounter with Mark Edmondson, who finally proved that Russell Simpson could be beaten, so long as you don’t go to five sets. Gerulaitis served particularly well – Tanner didn’t break his serve once. The New Yorker is keen to win here, and said that he doesn’t need any special stimulation other than the amount of money that accrues to the winners of big tournaments. “(Mats) Wilander made himself a millionaire by winning the French (Open),” said Gerulaitis. “You don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to work that one out.” So much for the prestige of a grand-slam event. Connors crushed Paul McNamee of Australia, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1. Gene Mayer eliminated No. 16 Steve Denton, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; Johan Kriek downed Nick Saviano, 6-2, 6-3, 7-5; and Edmondson edged New Zealand’s Russell Simpson, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6. Unseeded Tim Mayotte, 1981 NCAA champion from Springfield, Mass., moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Buster Mottram, the 15th seed and the last hope of the British fans. Mayotte reached the quarterfinals for the second time. He had just turned pro when he played at Wimbledon in 1981. He led Mottram, 6-2, 2:1, when rain interrupted play. When it was resumed, Mayette lost his touch and Mottram took a 4:2 lead. But then Mayotte got his game together, and once he had nosed ahead, he stayed in control. “It’s great to have another shot at the quarterfinals,” said Mayotte, who won the NCAA while at Stanford. “Last year I didn’t play as well as I could because I was nervous. Now I feel extremely comfortable on grass.” Mats Wilander, a favorite with the crowd after his triumph in the French Open last month, failed to find a way to get past Brian Teacher, who served consistently and used his long reach to cut off the Swede’s passing shots. Teacher ended the hopes of Sweden’s 17-year-old Swede, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, to move into the quarters. Mayer, after losing to Connors, said conditions will favor McEnroe if he plays Connors in the final with continuing rain. “Rain makes the grass courts soft,” Mayer said. “The harder the surface, the better Connors likes it and the better he plays.”
Quarterfinals: Steve Goldstein
It rained at the All-England Tennis Championships again Thursday. But, in between the raindrops, Mark Edmondson pulled off upset to add a bit of drama to another soggy, gray day at Wimbledon. Edmondson, a burly Australian seeded 12th, ripped third- seeded Vitas Gerulaitis, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, with a battery of powerful forehands to reach the semifinals. He has been playing Wimbledon since 1973 but never had advanced beyond the third round. Rain delayed the start of play Thursday for several hours and threatened to wreck referee Fred Hoyles’ plan to finish the tournament this Sunday as scheduled. To stay on course, he had to get at least three singles completed. The weather cleared just in time to accommodate. No. 2 Jimmy Connors sailed past Gene Mayer, 6-1, 6-2, 7-6, to qualify for a semifinal match with Edmondson. The 8/6 third-set tiebreaker finished in rapidly fading light. Edmondson, his dark scowl more fitting to a loser, complained about playing on Court 2. “The court was terrible and it was a disgrace to put us out there,” he said. “The reason a lot of seeds get beaten there is not because it’s a voodoo court. It’s just a bad court, and it’s disappointing they put one of the quarterfinals out there. It’s as if they didn’t care about us.” Whatever thoughts Gerulaitis had about Court 2 and his loss he kept to himself, since he refused to be interviewed. Edmondson, who recently said he would rather drink beer than practice, won the 1976 Australian Open as an unseeded player, a feat never before accomplished. Gerulaitis had his chance in the opening set, but blew a set point on two aces by Edmondson and then dropped the tiebreaker. Three service breaks gave Gerulaitis the second set, but then he started missing with his first serve and Edmondson attacked the second serve with success. “I concentrated on getting the ball high and as heavy as I could because the court was bad,” Edmondson said. After Gerulaitis missed two break points in the sixth game of the third set, Edmondson broke in the seventh. In the final set, Gerulaitis saved three match points on his serve before Edmondson ended the 2 1/2-hour match with a cross-court forehand. Connors, although saying he didn’t serve as well as he could, did agree that he played “extremely well” in the first two sets. He lost his concentration for a while in the third set but recovered it in time to dispose of Mayer. Looking ahead to Edmondson, to whom he has never lost, Connors said, “I played him at Queens and I played very well against him. I’ve been playing against some pretty big servers this week but my return is going well.” John McEnroe and Tim Mayotte won yesterday to advance to today’s men’s semifinals, the winner to meet the survivor of the Connors-Edmondson match. McEnroe overcame some inconsistent serving to triumph over Johan Kriek of South Africa, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-3. Mayotte, the unseeded Springfield rifle, waged a four-hour battle with the 11th-seeded Brian Teacher before winning, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5, 3-6, 6-1. Mayotte staged a remarkable comeback in the fifth set after playing poorly in the later stages of the fourth. From 3:3 in the fourth, Teacher held serve, broke Mayotte’s serve and held again for the set – all without dropping a point. But in the deciding set, Mayotte opened by holding serve at love, then broke Teacher as a passing shot hit the net cord and hopped over Teacher’s racket. Continuing to serve well, Mayotte added a second break in the sixth game when Teacher netted a half-volley. The New Englander quickly piled up three match points, serving at 5:1, and though he double-faulted one away, he cashed in on the second with a beautiful serve-and-volley combination. Like McEnroe, Mayotte, 21, attended Stanford and was an NCAA singles champion. Unlike McEnroe, Mayotte is calm and controlled on court. The two have never played, but Mayotte is very respectful of the defending champion’s powers, his serve in particular. Tough serve to handle ”He serves a little bit like Luis Tiant used to pitch,” Mayotte said. ”It’s coming from God-knows-where and you don’t know where it’s going.”
Semifinals: Steve Goldstein
Some have compared the pairing to Ali-Frazier. Others have likened it to the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. The Wimbledon men’s final is what the odds-makers – and the seedings committee – had predicted it would be. It is what the public wanted and what the players themselves await with relish: John McEnroe vs. Jimmy Connors. Hanging in the balance is a $75,000 first prize and another notch in the gun of one of these fiercest of rivals. For Connors, a victory today (TV-Channel 3, 9 a.m.) would give him a second Wimbledon title eight years after his first. For McEnroe, it would mark a successful defense of the championship that he won for the first time last year and give him a legitimate claim to the No. 1 world ranking. It would also mean at least temporary release from the pressure that he puts on himself to achieve nothing short of perfection each time he steps on the court. For these two heavyweights, yesterday’s semifinals constituted little more than a few rounds of sparring or a few licks on the heavy bag. Connors brushed aside Australia’s Mark Edmondson, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1, in 90 minutes. McEnroe, in his initial meeting with unseeded Tim Mayotte, produced all sorts of magical shots and emerged with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 victory in just under two hours. Connors neutralized the bear-like Edmondson’s big serve with stinging returns and passed him when he lumbered to the net. Unfortunately, the match had all of the drama of a Tupperware party. “I wanted to play the match, win and get off,” Connors said, after having done just that. Since McEnroe had never played Mayotte, there was some testing of the waters before he dove in. His strategy was to get on top of Mayotte early, to pin him to the baseline so that he could not make use of his considerable volleying skills. This, McEnroe did, and he kept Mayotte off balance throughout their Court No. 1 meeting. McEnroe got a warning for verbal obscenity in the third set. Otherwise, he was calm, although after winning the first set, he refused to continue until a damp spot resulting from the morning’s rain was sopped from the court. “I don’t think that was a belligerent move,” Mayotte said. “It was a dangerous spot. I thought,” he then joked, “that John might fall down and break his leg, and I would get into the final.” That might have been Mayotte’s only chance this year, but he may get to future finals because of his tremendous talent. Not surprisingly, both Edmondson and Mayotte said that today’s showdown hinged on how well Connors returns McEnroe ‘s serve. “There’s no use in trying to out-hit Connors,” Edmondson said. “He can return better than most people can serve.” Mayotte said that McEnroe is going to have to serve better than he did yesterday if he is to beat Connors. ”He has to get more first serves in,” Mayotte said, “or with a return like Connors has, he’ll be in trouble. It’s almost like a shark smelling blood. If a player senses a weakness, he’ll realize he can go for it. For McEnroe, the key will be keeping Jimmy in the back court, then cruising in to net himself.” Mayotte spoke wistfully of reaching the level of excellence achieved by Connors and McEnroe. ”What John or Jimmy does,” he said, “is make you work 5 percent harder on every shot.” ”For this year, it’s probably the best final,” McEnroe said in a veiled reference to the absence of Bjorn Borg. “This is the guy I can get up for the best.” The last time these two played here, in 1980, McEnroe beat Connors in the semis in an acrimonious four-setter. Connors couldn’t understand McEnroe’s habit of ranting at himself on the court. Now they are accustomed to one another’s habits, they practice together (three times during this tournament), and there is mutual admiration. “One thing that I respect about Connors,” McEnroe said, “is that he always gives 100 percent. That is one thing that makes for a good match. It should be interesting.”
Final: Steve Goldstein
The longest final in Wimbledon’s 105-year history, a tension-filled drama whose outcome clearly delighted an overflow Centre Court crowd, ended yesterday with an inspired Jimmy Connors beating John McEnroe in a decisive fifth set. The two Americans lit up a gray English sky for 4 hours, 14 minutes with their own Fourth of July fireworks. For sheer emotion and the full spectrum of tennis – careless to courageous – Connors’ 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4 triumph will be hard to beat. For Connors, 29, his second singles title proved well worth the torturous eight-year wait since his first. In 1974, Connors was the bad boy who blasted through the heroic Ken Rosewall. Yesterday, he was St. George slaying the dragon, and 14,000 fans heaped their affection and admiration on the new champion. For McEnroe, the match was one he could have won. Leading by two sets to one, the defending champion let it slip through his hands with indecisive play, uncharacteristic errors and a general malaise. The key, ironically, was McEnroe’s inability to break Connors’ serve often enough. Connors won his last 12 service games and served extremely well in the crucial fourth-set tiebreaker (3 service winners). The conventional wisdom had been that the key would be how Connors would return McEnroe’s more fearsome serve. McEnroe served well enough. He had 18 aces (his opponent none!), and Connors barely got a racket on many of his other serves. Only in the fifth set did McEnroe’s first-serve percentage dip below 50. But the difference in the fifth set – and in the match – was the New Yorker’s inability to break through Connors’ delivery. Connors served well when he had to – in the fourth-set tie-breaker and the final set. His new approach-tossing the ball forward on his serve and leaning into it – cost him 13 double faults, but all except four came in the first three sets. When the match ended, with the crowd roaring and Connors leaping and thrusting his fists in the air, a dejected McEnroe walked to the net, shook hands and walked to the sidelines with Connors’ arm around him. Turning to Connors, he said, “It was a hell of an effort, and I’m glad that we didn’t have any problems between us.” Then Connors walked to the players’ entrance to embrace his wife, Patti. That there were no problems was in part a tribute to the umpiring of Robert Jenkins. Jenkins had handled last year’s McEnroe-Bjorn Borg final without incident, and the tournament committee decided wisely to forgo precedent and assign Jenkins to another singles final. “I thought both of them behaved reasonably well, considering how pent-up they both were,” Jenkins said. It was McEnroe ‘s conduct last year that caused the All England Club to withhold the honorary membership that it ordinarily gives to Wimbledon champions. Yesterday, following McEnroe’s defeat, the club announced that he had been elected an honorary member. Connors already had his membership, but he still had a reason to win. “I’ve had three chances to win since 1974, and I let them go by,” he said, referring to his losses in the final to Arthur Ashe once and Bjorn Borg twice. ”I was going to do anything not to let that chance slip by again.” The first set started slowly, with each player feeling the other out. McEnroe lost his serve to open the set, but a flurry of forehand errors cost Connors his serve in the sixth. McEnroe broke again in the eighth game, after Connors had struggled back to deuce from 0/40, then held his own serve for the set. The second and third sets would not constitute this tournament’s finest hour. The second was particularly patchy, with McEnroe making an inordinate number of errors and losing his serve twice. In the third, McEnroe again lost his serve in the opening game, and Connors hung on gamely to serve for the set at 5:4. Incredibly, from 30-all, Connors served his eighth and ninth double faults, and the set was even. McEnroe played perhaps his best tennis of the match in winning the tie-breaker, aided by a couple of Connors errors and Connors’ 10th double fault. Both held serve through the fourth set to reach the second tie-breaker of the match (Connors survived the 1st game of that set after 5 deuces saving two break points). McEnroe’s 16th ace put him up, 4:3, in the tie-breaker, but Connors followed with an excellent serve, with McEnroe netting the return. Connors went ahead, 6:4, with a brilliant volley followed by a sparkling service return that McEnroe plunked into the net. McEnroe saved one set point with a serve-and-volley combination, but Connors came right back with a service winner. They were back to Square One. The match was so even that each man had won the same number of games. In the fifth set, McEnroe ‘s serve let him down in the third game. Connors took a second serve and blasted it past him on break point. Now McEnroe looked demoralized, and after Connors had held serve for 3:1, McEnroe played a loose game and nearly was broken again. On one point, he let a service return float by him, only to see it hit the baseline. He saved that break point, but he looked shaky. “It’s very hard to get pumped up when you’re down,” McEnroe said later. ”You tend to get down on yourself.” The opposite, of course, was happening to Connors. Each winning point sent him into new gyrations of ecstasy. With Connors serving at 4:3, McEnroe got to 30/15, but he was then passed twice. After McEnroe held serve, Connors was left to serve for the match at 5:4. There was nothing reserved about these English now. The church-like hushes during each point became wild cheering every time Connors moved closer to his goal. There was anticipation of a last stand by McEnroe, but the defender went out with a whimper, not a bang. First Connors volleyed out of McEnroe ‘s reach. Then McEnroe mis-hit two balls. At 40/0, Connors unloaded his 13th double fault, but it proved irrelevant rather than unlucky, for he followed with a blistering service winner. The king was dead. Long live the king. Connors knew that neither McEnroe nor he had played the best tennis of their lives, but he described it as “all-out guts play.” The victory was important to the course of Connors’ career. The title was his first in a Grand Slam event since 1978, and it went a long way toward helping him reach his stated goal of being No. 1 in the world again. “I haven’t won a major tournament since 1978, but I’ve had success in that time,” Connors said. “I didn’t win a U.S. Open or a Wimbledon – which for me is a disappointment – but it doesn’t mean I failed. I won tournaments. I made a living. But it’s nice to win a Wimbledon.” The vanquished McEnroe had to undergo the further agony of playing the doubles final. It was clear that his heart wasn’t in it as he and Peter Fleming lost, 6-3, 6-2, to Australia’s Paul McNamee and Peter McNamara. Then, extremely subdued, he faced newsmen. “I feel that it was too bad I didn’t win it,” he said. “I enjoyed myself here more this year, but I would have liked a different end.” McEnroe said that he was pleased to become an All England Club member but that he would not attend the champions’ dinner later in the evening. “I think,” he said, “that the champions will be there.” Between singles and doubles, McEnroe played 13 matches in this rain-plagued tournament, the majority of them in the final hectic week. He had no complaint, but others saw it differently. “I don’t think John played quite well enough when he needed to,” said Jenkins, the umpire. “I don’t know but that his heavy schedule might have exacted its toll. He’s a great competitor, but he tends to run himself down. He rarely seems to say no.” Connors’ 94th title, 6th major. Stats of the final
June 20, 1983; 128 Draw (16 seeds) – $746,408; Surface – Grass
Chris Lewis  becomes the first unseeded Wimbledon finalist since 1967, but hasn’t got anything to say against a magnificent John McEnroe in the final. Kevin Curren, very likely serves the most aces in the 80s – 33 (13 in a 4th set!) against Jimmy Connors.
First round: Steve Goldstein
The sun shone brilliantly on the opening day of the 97th edition of The Championships, but that was hardly the only unusual occurrence yesterday at Wimbledon. Argentina’s fourth-seeded Guillermo Vilas and seventh-seeded Jose-Luis Clerc, who missed Wimbledon last year because of the Falkland Islands conflict, lasted but one day this year. Vilas was victimized by Nduka Odizor, 24, a Nigerian who was an all-American at the University of Houston. Odizor, who now makes his home in Houston, saved a match point in the third-set tie-breaker, then came roaring back to take the four-hour match, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6(7), 7-5, 6-2, before a supportive crowd packed around Centre Court. Clerc’s early departure, at the hands of Italy’s Claudio Panatta, was surprising only in its 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 brevity because Clerc would rather mow these lawns than play on them. But what of hard-serving, grass-loving Steve Denton? The ninth seed tumbled in the fading light to New Zealand’s crafty Chris Lewis, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3, to cap the day. The other seeds, male and female, performed as expected. Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, the top two male seeds, began their drives toward a projected rematch in the final with straight-set victories. Connors beat an often-stubborn Eddie Edwards of South Africa, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3, and McEnroe subdued fellow American Ben Testerman, who had taken him to five sets at the French Open, by 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-2. McEnroe, who tore some fibers in his left shoulder during his loss to Connors in the final at Queens Club 10 days ago, said that the shoulder was improved but that he was “just glad to get by” Testerman. Except for some remarks that he made about foot-fault calls against him, McEnroe was not a testy man versus Testerman yesterday. “I can’t imagine any serious tennis professional not wanting to play on Centre Court,” Odizor said, when asked if he had feared that the experience might be intimidating. “For me, it’s always been a dream – something I wanted very badly – to win on Centre Court.” Was the experience all that he had anticipated? “I couldn’t ask for more,” Odizor said, smiling. Odizor lost in the second round here last year to Mats Wilander. Yesterday, he faced even earlier elimination. After wasting a set point in the third-set tie-breaker, Vilas served for the match at 7:6 in the tie-breaker. The Argentine went to the net behind a poor approach shot, expecting a low return from the Nigerian, but Odizor floated a forehand pass down the line. “I don’t even remember how I won the point,” Odizor said. “Would you believe it?” He did remember the next two points – a backhand pass and a backhand volley winner that captured the set. The roar of the crowd rang in his ears. After collecting himself, the hard-serving Odizor devised a strategy for the fourth and fifth sets of rushing Vilas, keeping the pressure on. Vilas had chances to win the fourth, but Odizor hung on, and in the fifth, the Nigerian raced to a 5:1 lead to put the match out of reach. Odizor’s story is a remarkable one. Far and away the best player of his age in Nigeria at 15, Odizor attracted the attention of a visiting Houston professor, Robert Wren, who saw him play at the Ikoyi Club in Lagos. Wren financed Odizor’s move to Houston for his senior year of high school, and he stayed on to enroll at the university, where he came under the tutelage of then-coach Lee Merry. Odizor was an all-American in 1978, 1980 and 1981. He reached the semifinals of both the singles and doubles in the NCAA championships in his senior year and was named the school’s athlete of the year. He has a passing acquaintance with another Nigerian-turned-Houstonian, basketball star Akeem Abdul Olajuwon. Throughout his entertaining match with Vilas, Odizor felt that the pulse of the crowd was in tune with his own. “It was a big boost,” he said. “I thought I would be nervous, but amazingly I was not.” Vilas, a veteran of Centre Court, also said that he was not nervous, but he acknowledged that the thought of a possible one-year suspension from the Grand Prix circuit for accepting an appearance fee had been preying on his mind. The Argentine denied having receiving $60,000 to play in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in March and said that he would fight the suspension through the appeals process. “They can’t make me stop playing tennis for something I didn’t do,” he said. Eighth-seeded Vitas Gerulaitis survived a five-set challenge from smooth-playing Ramesh Krishnan yesterday, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3, to lead an advance of the remaining men’s seeds into the second round at Wimbledon. Ivan Lendl, the third seed, also opened his quest for a first major championship successfully, surviving a jittery first set to beat Bernard Mitton of South Africa, 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-0. Much later in the day, fifth- seeded Mats Wilander held five match points in the fourth set against Australia’s John Fitzgerald, but he lost the set when it went to a tie-breaker. The match was suspended because of darkness, and the fifth set will be played today. Lendl said he was unfazed by playing his first match at Wimbledon since he lost in the first round in 1981: “I didn’t feel too nervous, because I couldn’t do any worse than I did two years ago.” A future two-time champion, Stefan Edberg made his Grand Slam debut surprising a current Frenc Open semifinalist, Christophe Roger-Vasselin 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-1. Other teenager and future champion, Pat Cash demolished Julio Goes of Brazil 6-0, 6-0, 6-3.
Second round: (New York Times)
After a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Florin Segarceanu of Romania, the second-seeded John McEnroe made through to the third round. Foot faults have become McEnroe’s Achilles’ heel here this year. In his second service game, McEnroe was called for the first of six foot faults, two more than his first match. ”It’s hard to adjust for a foot fault when you do not think you are really doing it,” McEnroe said later. McEnroe appeared to be cruising at 4:0 in the 2nd set, but a foot fault on the first point of the next game set him off again. ”I’m not playing anymore until he’s off the line,” he told a chair-umpire Malcolm Huntington, referring to the foot-fault judge. Huntington defended the judge, so McEnroe called for Alan Mills, the tournament’s new referee. Mills told McEnroe that he had been sitting in an area right behind the judge and reaffirmed his competency. Mills was called onto the court a second time in the third game of the third set, after Segarceanu drilled a backhand cross-court pass and a frustrated McEnroe swatted another ball into the net. Huntington, who has officiated for 24 years, slapped McEnroe with the loss of a point, the second stage in the four-stage code of conduct. ”I’m not going to play on,” McEnroe shouted at Huntington. ”I hit the ball in the net. It was nowhere near anybody. There’s no way you can call that. What’s it if I hit into the net? You’re not allowed to show any emotion?” After listening to McEnroe tell him ”this is no fun, it’s terrible, I want it to be fun,” Mills surprisingly agreed and rescinded the point penalty. ”It was my prerogative to rescind the penalty,” Mills said later. ”I thought it was a rather harsh decision.” The 22-year-old Segarceanu, 86th in the computer ranking, acknowledged that McEnroe’s conduct had affected him. ”He was interrupting me, and I was losing my concentration, and then I had to start again from the beginning,” he said. In perhaps the final irony, Segarceanu was called for his only foot fault at match point. Hank Pfister of Bakersfield came within one penalty point of losing by default during a 3-6, 7-6(11), 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 loss to Ricardo Acuna of Chile. During the 3-hour-26-minute match, Pfister was penalized for racquet abuse, a verbal obscenity and a time delay that cost him the third-set tiebreaker. Another American, Fritz Buehning of Short Hills demanded a change of umpires before his second-round match against Pat Cash of Australia. Buehning received the requested change and then was trounced by the talented 18-year-old Cash, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. Another Australian, Mark Edmondson, eliminated eighth-seeded Vitas Gerulaitis for the second straight year, 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5. Afterward, Edmondson, a semifinalist here last year, lashed out at the tournament committee for failing to seed him and for scheduling the match on a back field court that was inaccessible to all but about 1,500 of the 35,000 spectators at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. ”I’m not your stiff-upper-lip, get-dressed, wear-a-tie and rally round-the-boys type of person,” said Edmondson, a former factory janitor. ‘‘The backlash is on, but all’s fair.” For the second straight match, Trey Waltke went out with the long white trousers he called his ”lucky pants,” but this time he came up short in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 loss to third-seeded Ivan Lendl. Given the patently obvious fact that all the guns belonged to Lendl, the result hardly rocked tennis’ establishment. But the Gatsbyesque shades of Lendl’s wipeout of Waltke at least made it 1983 Wimbledon’s most appealing show yet. Waltke sounds like a riverboat card sharp. Actually, he is a 28-year-old Missourian who is ranked 117th on the pro tour and is lucky to clear expenses. Unfortunately, his game often runs a distant second to his imagination. For the second match in a row, Waltke came out wearing white flannels and a long-sleeved white shirt – novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald’s hero of The Great Gatsby from the hide out. Defending champion Jimmy Connors, the No. 1 men’s seed wore down his opponent with strong finish Wednesday and gained the third round of the Wimbledon tennis championships. Connors, the 30-year-old left-hander who is seeded to meet McEnroe in the final, needed just 1 hour 48 minutes to beat Australian Wally Masur, 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-0. Nduka Odizor, a 24-year-old Nigerian barely ranked in the top 100, continued to produce upsets. Odizor, who had stunned No. 4 Guillermo Vilas in the first round Monday, dumped Peter Fleming, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Also advanced: No. 12 Kevin Curren, who defeated Sergio Casal, 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-3; No. 13 Brian Gottfried, who overcame stubborn Matt Doyle, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4, and No. 16 Tim Mayotte, who cruised past Andy Andrews, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
Third round: (New York Times)
Last fall, Roscoe Tanner considered quitting tennis. He was tired of travel and tournaments and worried about protecting what he had already achieved. Today, playing as if his opponent were Bjorn Borg, the 31-year-old left-hander served 19 aces and powered past Sweden’s latest two-handed hero, fifth-seeded Mats Wilander, 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-3, 6-4, for a spot in the last 16 of men’s singles at Wimbledon. Nine other American men joined Tanner in the fourth round, including second-seeded John McEnroe and two unseeded surprises, Robert Van’t Hof, a 24-year-old Californian, and Mike Leach of Westona survivor of qualifying. Only 7 of the 16 men who were seeded reached the fourth round. Tanner’s surprise opponent in the fourth round, which begins after the players take a day off today, will be Van’t Hof, who upset 11th-seeded Johan Kriek, a South African native who now lives in Naples, Florida, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-1. Kriek served 15 double-faults and appeared to wilt in the final set. He said later that Wimbledon’s cuisine had made him ill. Second-seeded McEnroe reached the round of 16, beating Brad Gilbert, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, in a match that tested neither McEnroe’s skill nor his temperament. Leach achieved a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Mark Edmondson of Australia. Leach, one of eight former national collegiate champions among the last 16, served 15 aces, saved 4 break points from 15/40 in the opening game of the 5th set and 2 more in the third game before breaking Edmondson at love for the match and then joyously heaving his racquet to the heavens. Earlier this year, during a series of exhibitions against Borg, Tanner developed a bone chip in a tendon of his left arm that forced him off the tour for eight weeks. As he pondered whether to continue, his computer ranking, once as high as fifth after his runner-up showing to Borg in five sets here in 1979, slipped from the low 30’s to the high 120’s. At home in Santa Barbara, unable to serve, Tanner began ”a long thought process with himself.” He also talked about his future with Jerry Hatchett, the pro at the Knollwood Tennis Club. Hatchett suggested that Tanner improve his volley and try to enjoy the game. ”It’s easy once you get to a certain level to protect that level,” Tanner said, referring to records and rankings. ”We talked about forgetting about the past. Just go out and try to be better.” Tanner has always had one of the sport’s strongest, fastest and most effective serves. Hatchett stressed the importance of positioning on the first volley, urging Tanner to play the first volley from three or four feet inside the service line instead of at the line. Closing in on the run would cut down the angle for the many baseline rivals who thrived on topspin. It would force them to move front-to-back rather than cross-court, which catered to their looping, heavily angled passing shots. One of those topspin disciples was Borg, now retired, but whom Tanner had beaten in four sets at the 1979 United States Open to squelch the Swede’s bid for a Grand Slam. Another was the 18-year-old Wilander, whom Tanner studied on television during the French Open final and played for the first time today. Tanner’s conclusion: Wilander was Borg II. Asked whether he had attacked Wilander as if he were Borg, Tanner, who is now 140th on the computer, said: ‘‘I played him exactly the same way. A lot of the shots were exactly the shots I would have tried against Borg.” If there is a major stroke difference between Wilander and Borg, it involves the serve. Wilander tried to play serve-and-volley against Tanner, but his first serve lacked enough damaging depth and bite, and his first volleys were too careful, allowing Tanner too much time for the pass. McEnroe next opponent will be Bill Scanlon, the No.14 seed, who has not dropped a set in three matches. Neither has Pat Cash, the 18-year-old Australian, who next draws third-seeded Ivan Lendl. Just as he was beginning to feel comfortable on grass courts, Lendl let two match points escape him at 5:4 in the 3rd set and another at 6:5 against Jakob Hlasek, a native of Czechoslovakia who now resides in Switzerland. After losing a sloppily played tiebreaker, Lendl finally hammered home the point, 6-1, 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4. First Grand Slam tournament (fourth overall) for the 18-year-old Hlasek. Attempting to win his first Grand Slam title, and the respect that comes from such an achievement, seems to obsess Lendl. ”I give you all the titles,” he said today, of his assorted tournament crowns, ”if you give me one Wimbledon or U. S. Open.” Cash, who has lost his serve only once in the tournament, will be a formidable test for Lendl. They have never met, and Cash said he was ”not worried” about the prospect. ”I’m just going to go out there and play like I have been,” he said.
Fourth round: Steve Goldstein
The upset bug that has infected Wimbledon ’83 yesterday hit defending champion Jimmy Connors, as Kevin Curren, a South African living in Texas, swatted 33 aces to crush the No. 1 seed, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(4). Only two months ago, Curren, 25, was bitten by a bug of another sort and contracted Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can be fatal. But Curren, the tall, angular 12th seed, never looked healthier as he mowed down the man with the best return of serve in the business. A bitterly disappointed Connors beat a hasty retreat from Court No. 2, a historic graveyard of champions, got into a car with his brother, John, and left the grounds without speaking to anyone. Connors, who has played Wimbledon since 1972, had never failed to reach the quarterfinals. Connors’ defeat, like that of Chris Evert Lloyd, his co-champion in 1974, sat atop a heap of other upsets. Murderous Monday, a cool, breezy, overcast day at the Championships, thrust a number of unfamiliar faces into the quarterfinals. And, as Lloyd’s loss made a clear favorite of Martina Navratilova, Connors’ elimination moved John McEnroe to the forefront. The second seed kept hGuillermo Vilasis hopes for a second Wimbledon title alive by mastering Bill Scanlon, 7-5, 7-6(7), 7-6(7). The amateur psychology didn’t work. Curren broke Connors’ serve in the 8th game of the 3rd set for 5:3, then served out for a two-sets-to-one lead. But Connors is often at his best when his back is against the wall. He came out blasting in the fourth set, but Curren was not having any trouble holding serve, at least until the 9th game. Serving at 4:5, Curren offered up three set points to the defending champion, but Connors committed errors on the first two, and Curren saved the third with a smash. Curren finally held for 5:5 with his 31st ace. After Connors held for 6:5, Curren again found himself in a sticky spot at 15/30. Connors tried a backhand pass that would have given him two set points, but Curren lunged and just caught the ball on his forehand for a stop-volley winner. “That took a little wind out of his sails; he looked disappointed,” Curren said. Curren won the next two points with an ace and a service winner. The tie-breaker saw Curren win three straight points for 5:2 and Connors win the next two points. Connors then netted an easy forehand pass off a weak Curren volley to give the South African a match point. Curren immediately fired a service winner and the 2-hour, 50-minute contest was over. Connors’ reign was done. The greatest crowd-puller among the men in the early rounds was ”The Duke of Nigeria,” Nduka Odizor, a courteous, dignified, powerful, and graceful player who sprang on the tennis public one of the biggest surprises in years when he soundly defeated Guillermo Vilas of Argentina in the first round, and then disposed of Peter Fleming. The ”Duke” was discovered in Lagos, a ballboy who could play excellent tennis with a slab of wood, and taken to Houston at age 15. He charmed the crowds with both his play and his manner, though, until he was eventually beaten 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 by Chris Lewis in a fourth round match. Australian Pat Cash is a young man who has impressed, he reached the fourth round not dropping a serve, but was broken several times by Ivan Lendl in their 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-1 duel. McEnroe was one of five Americans to advance to the last 8.
Quarterfinals: (New York Times)
A John McEnroe–Ivan Lendl men’s singles semifinal was assured today when the second-seeded McEnroe powered past Sandy Mayer, 6-3, 7-5, 6-0. A slightly pulled groin muscle, a warning for racquet abuse and a brief verbal exchange with Mayer were only some of the extras in McEnroe’s otherwise routine quarterfinal-round victory. But these may seem tame Friday, when McEnroe and the third-seeded Lendl renew what is one of the most intense rivalries on the men’s tour. The last time the two met, during the World Championship of Tennis singles final in Dallas, McEnroe won a stormy five-setter that went to a decisive tiebreaker. Several days after the match, upset over McEnroe’s behavior, Lendl vowed to ”take matters into my own hands” if officials did not control McEnroe. Reminded of Lendl’s vow, McEnroe said today, ”That was one of his brighter statements.” Kevin Curren of South Africa, whose 33 aces helped him sidetrack top-seeded Jimmy Connors in the fourth round, had 10 aces today in advancing to Friday’s semifinals with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 victory over Tim Mayotte of Springfield. Mayotte, the 16th-seeded player and a semifinalist here last year, served for a two-set lead at 5:4 in the 2nd set and again at 5:3 in the 4th that would have evened the match. But the 25-year-old Curren broke back each time with aggressive returns and won a pair of tantalizing tiebreakers, 7/4 and 8/6. On the center court, the 6-foot-3-inch Mayotte and the 6-1 Curren looked as imposing as their powerful serves, aggressive first volleys and textbook grass-court games. They had practiced together before the tournament, and a genuine feeling of fellowship emanated throughout the briskly contested 2-hour-55-minute match. After Curren’s service winner on his fourth match point clinched the tiebreaker, Mayotte applauded his opponent, an instinctive gesture of sportsmanship that drew an ovation from the crowd. Meanwhile, on the No.1 court, the 10th meeting between McEnroe and Mayer (McEnroe had won the first nine) grew testy. When asked how he felt McEnroe was playing, Mayer said afterward, ”Not terribly well.” Mayer, a former semifinalist who was unseeded this year, is known as a stickler for adherence to the rules and seemed determined not to let McEnroe wedge out the slightest psychological advantage. But diverting some of his priorities from his serve-and-volley style may have contributed to Mayer’s game-ending double fault at 2:3 in the opening set and other squandered chances. With McEnroe serving for the set at 5:3, Mayer ran round McEnroe’s second serve at 30/40 and went for a winner, only to drive a forehand return wide. McEnroe double-faulted at deuce, however, giving Mayer a second break point. When McEnroe angrily swatted the ball over the net, narrowly missing Mayer, who was standing at the baseline, Mayer looked toward David Mercer, the umpire. No warning came, so Mayer approached the chair. ”The next time he smashes the ball and it almost hits me, do you want me to take matters into my own hands?” Mayer asked. McEnroe said that he had been prepared to apologize to Mayer ”if he hadn’t complained.” But McEnroe did not, so Mayer shouted ”shouldn’t I expect an apology?” at McEnroe, which prompted another verbal retort. But the break in the rhythm of play affected Mayer more than McEnroe, who held serve for the set with a service winner, overhead and Mayer’s netted forehand. McEnroe said he had suffered the groin pull in his right leg while practicing before the match. At 3:2 in the 2nd set, with a chilly wind settling over the court, Bill Norris, the trainer, sent out a small jar of analgesic balm that McEnroe periodically applied on the tender area during changeovers. ”It should be all right in a few days,” McEnroe said. Ivan Lendl, the powerful Czech proved once and for all that he can play on grass when his allergies and his confidence are not troubling him, as he out-served and out-volleyed Roscoe Tanner, 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-3. In the other half of the men’s draw, unseeded Chris Lewis, 26, of New Zealand, eliminated Mel Purcell 6-7(6), 6-0, 6-4, 7-6(2) to earn his first semifinal berth here. For Lendl there was only one more anxious moment, and it wasn’t the second-set tie-breaker. The Czech took a misstep in the 2nd game of the 2nd set and felt something crack in his right ankle. He hobbled briefly, but refused medical attention at the next changeover as the shock to the ankle wore off. ”All I know was that he was limping around, and then he ran like a gazelle when we played,” Tanner said wryly. Tanner lamented his lost chances, and refused to blame a couple of bad line calls for the loss. “That isn’t what beat me,” Tanner said. “He beat me. He hit the ball pretty well and I felt I was late all the time. Late returning on his serve and a step slow getting to the net on my serve.” Lendl practiced with a left-handed player to prepare for Tanner, and is leaving it to his friend and manager, Wojtek Fibak, to find him another lefty should he have to face McEnroe. Lendl uses up practice partners the way Joe Frazier wasted his sparring partners, leaving them reeling around and asking for mercy.
Semifinals: Steve Goldstein
John McEnroe, whom nearly everyone expected to be there, and unseeded New Zealander Chris Lewis, whom nearly everybody expected to be gone, yesterday blitzed and scrambled, respectively, into tomorrow’s men’s singles final at Wimbledon. Second-seeded McEnroe ran through Ivan Lendl with unexpected ease. The McEnroe-Lendl semifinal showdown was expected to be something like the Thrilla in Manilla, but the fight it most resembled was Cassius Clay versus Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine, circa 1965. The 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4 knockout was over quickly, and the critical blow was lightning quick. In contrast, Lewis’ 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 8-6 decision over 12th-seeded Kevin Curren was a knock-down, drag-out affair of the Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard variety. Both players emerged with cuts and bruises resulting from falls they suffered as a result of their shotmaking derring-do. Lewis, playing his first singles match on Centre Court, credited his 3-hour, 45-minute triumph to physical conditioning. Lewis and the gallant but exhausted Curren left a dusk-shrouded Centre Court to the prolonged cheers of 14,000 fans, among them Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. They knew they had seen a spectacular match, one that will be talked about for years. Lewis, 26, is an unassuming, well-mannered player with modest skills, quicksilver speed and movie-star looks. Ironically, the 1975 Wimbledon junior titlist had trained particularly in the last two months not for Wimbledon but for his country’s Davis Cup meeting with Sweden in England next week. In fact, before this fortnight, Lewis was best known on the circuit for his deep-seated fear of flying, which has caused him to consider moving from New Zealand to a more central location, like New York City. Now, however, Lewis’ place in history is assured, regardless of what transpires tomorrow. Lewis, ranked No. 91 in the world, is the first unseeded player to reach the final since the open era (professionals playing with amateurs) began in 1968. The last was Wilhelm Bungert of West Germany in 1967. Bungert, like the other five unseeded finalists before him, did not win a set in the final, losing to John Newcombe. Judging by McEnroe’s performance yesterday, Lewis must play very well indeed to thwart the 1981 Wimbledon champion. McEnroe played an exceptional match in beating Lendl for the third straight time. The New Yorker pounded 16 aces, doubling his total for the tournament, and never lost his serve. Had it been anyone else on the other side of the net, the third-seeded Lendl, who lost his serve only twice, surely would be in the final. “He took full advantage of the mistakes I made and the few chances I gave him,” Lendl said. “I wasn’t able to take advantage of his mistakes.” The British press had billed the titanic confrontation as the Wimbledon Ripper versus Ivan the Terrible, but the two were all sweetness and light yesterday. “I think he was behaving very well,” the Czechoslovak said of McEnroe’s flawless comportment. Lendl even excused a passing shot McEnroe hit at him. “That’s perfectly all right,” Lendl said. “I would do the same thing. It keeps you more careful at the net.” But it was up to McEnroe to get off the best line regarding this love feast. Asked if he had noticed Thatcher, the Conservative Party leader, in the crowd, McEnroe quipped: “It’s nice she was here to see two conservative guys play.” Lendl showed up with a fresh haircut, a kind of semi-Mohawk, which he said he had gotten so he wouldn’t stick out at a concert he attended Thursday night, starring the British rock group Supertramp. Lendl stayed only 15 minutes, wondering how anyone could like that type of music. It was McEnroe’s turn to see the show last night, and it’s a safe bet he won’t leave early. The match turned on the first-set tie-breaker, set up by an impressive serve-and-volley display by both men in the first 12 games. At 3:2 and serving, Lendl netted a relatively easy high backhand volley. Instead of 4:2 it was 3:3, and McEnroe won the next three points to put the tie-breaker out of reach. “I wanted to hit the ball to his forehand,” Lendl said of the fatal shot. ”I saw him moving to that side and I tried to hit it low, but it was too low.” McEnroe said that set was the key. “Whoever wins the first set in a tie-breaker gets a big psychological boost,” he said. Lendl’s first serve in that set went in an astounding 81 percent of the time, yet he was one set down. Overall, Lendl finished with 73 percent of first serves in, to McEnroe’s 62 percent. But McEnroe had the big serves when he needed them – as when he came back from 0/30 three times in the final set – and his second serve was more effective than Lendl’s. In fact, Lendl’s sole loss of serve in the second set came when he double-faulted on break point going for a big second serve. “I wasn’t winning too many points on my second serve,” Lendl said in explaining that shot. McEnroe and Lendl were the star attractions and Curren and Lewis the supporting players, but the second match proved to be the winning production. The outcome was in doubt until the very last, with some people wondering whether the match, without a tie-breaker in the final set, would even be completed yesterday. Curren was definitely the more tired of the pair going in. He had had a tough doubles match Thursday, suffering a laceration on his right shin when he slid into a net post. The injury didn’t hamper him, but it was Lewis who performed most of the acrobatics throughout the match, running down impossible balls and cutting off what looked to be winning volleys. Curren broke Lewis’ serve in the 2nd game of the final set to take a 3:0 (30/15) lead, but Lewis broke back in the fifth game for 2:3. In the incredible 6th game, Lewis hit the grass three times as he saved two break points and drew even at 3:3. “He just played the game of his life,” Curren said. At 6:6, it was Curren’s serve, and he dropped into a 0/40 hole, aided by his sixth double fault. On the next point, Lewis hit a backhand service return that looked like a winner. The linesman called it out, but umpire Stephen Winyard overruled and gave the game to Lewis. “I was very disappointed at that,” Curren said. “You’re supposed to overrule only if the ball is clearly out, and if that ball was in, it was by centimeters. I was obviously very upset. What a time!” Lewis, too, was surprised, but he wasn’t giving anything back. Serving for the match, he fell behind 15/40, but Curren made two service-return errors. A third break point was lost to a lunging Lewis volley. Lewis then served an ace (off his second serve) that hit the chalk for match point. His next serve also hit chalk, and Curren’s return was wide. It was over. Curren credited Lewis’ serving and his agility around the net. “He was cutting off my volleys, which no one had done all week,” Curren said. “He made me hit a lot of balls. I’m a very tired man.” Lewis said that, in the end, it had come down to his own fitness. At 0:3 in the fifth set, he said, he “stepped up” his level of play. “I realized if I didn’t do something it would be all over.” Lewis already had had a good Wimbledon. He beat ninth-seeded Steve Denton (Curren’s doubles partner) in the opening match and survived a five-setter with Mike Bauer in the third round. Then he took out the favored Nduka ”Duke” Odizor. “I went out today with the attitude of trying hard every point,” Lewis said. “I’ve always believed in myself.”
Final: (New York Times)
The artistry and mechanics that separate the good from the great in tennis were dramatized at Wimbledon today when John McEnroe won his second men’s singles title. Playing his most efficient final in a Grand Slam championship and savoring the emotional highs of the moment, the 24-year-old New Yorker dispatched Chris Lewis of New Zealand, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, in 1 hour 25 minutes. There have been briefer men’s finals, but the scores today accurately reflected the thoroughness of McEnroe’s performance. Following an impressive straight-set victory over Ivan Lendl in the semifinals, he again held serve throughout, losing only 9 points in 12 service games, and was never further back than 15/30 in any of those games. ”I’m glad I was able to win it the way people want me to win it,” said McEnroe, who had been seeded second. He smiled warmly and kissed the Challenge Cup, holding it aloft in the brilliant sunshine and basking in the crowd’s admiration, which had often been missing on other days at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Shot Cracks Racquet Lewis, the first unseeded player to reach the men’s final since 1967, was under siege from the third point of the opening game, when McEnroe drilled a fierce forehand down the middle. Dropping to his knees, the 26-year-old Lewis miraculously blocked back a volley winner, but the force of McEnroe’s shot cracked the frame of Lewis’s oversized racquet, and he pulled himself up from the scarred turf with some skin off his right leg. ”I thought my game had improved immensely since I played him the last time,” said Lewis, who was beaten, 6-0, 6-2, by McEnroe in the semifinals at the Queen’s Club last year. ‘‘I spent the last 48 hours doing everything I could to prepare mentally for the match. I just lost to a player who was in another class today.” Lifting their game to the occasion has been the trademark of champions, and McEnroe demonstrated that en route to the title and the $110,000 first prize. He dropped only one set in seven singles matches, and he also took the doubles title yesterday with his longtime partner, Peter Fleming. ”Is it less enjoyable because Borg or Connors weren’t here?’‘ he was asked of his previous final-round rivals. ”It’s more enjoyable because I won easier,” he replied. Some of Lewis’s five-set victory over Kevin Curren in a 3-hour-45-minute semifinal Friday seemed to have drained some of the bite from his first serve and some of the acrobatic quickness from his muscular legs. But he said he had slept and eaten all right, talked to his parents and New Zealand’s Prime Minister by telephone, read thousands of cables from home, and shunned television, newspapers and interviews. On the court, however, the skills that separate No.1 from No. 91 in the world ranking were all too noticeable. Although conscious of how Lewis had scrambled from 0:3 in the fifth set against Curren, McEnroe knew he was a clear favorite and also knew what he had to do. ”I knew it was important to get on top of him early because otherwise he might get into the match and think he had a chance,” said McEnroe, who won in 1981 and was playing in his fourth consecutive singles final here. ”If I was able to get on top of him early, he’d just try to fight back and not maybe think he had a chance of really winning. That’s what happened. He felt it was a real uphill struggle all the time.” As in the match against the third-seeded Lendl, McEnroe’s dominant weapon was his serve. He got in 36 of 57 first serves, won the first 17 points on his first serve and lost only 4 of the 36. Many times Lewis looked lost. ”You never know where it’s coming next,” said Lewis, who had been able to attack Curren’s explosive first serve. ”He never lets you get into a pattern. He’s serving wide to the forehand, wide to the backhand, straight at you. He’s varying the pace, he’s varying the spin. He’s just an artist with the racquet, and he plays so unlike anyone in the game, it’s difficult to play one match, especially against a left-hander, who’s so good.” McEnroe was equally effective with the first volley, punching firmly and deeply to nullify Lewis’s chance for the pass, and was crunching the overheads. By contrast, Lewis was passed or forced into defensive first volleys because of McEnroe’s consistency and variety on returns. ”His returns were so well placed,” Lewis said. ”I was always scrambling for my first volley. I wasn’t able to do much with them because I was stretched out as far as I could most of the time. I couldn’t volley how I was used to volleying. That’s the pressure he puts on you, because not only does he return it, but he seems to be able to direct it incredibly well at the same time.” From 1-all in the opening set, McEnroe swept 12 points. At 2-all in the 2nd set, grunting on almost every shot, Lewis got in all six first serves, only to have McEnroe break at 30 with a backhand volley winner, a reflexed backhand cross-court return and a forehand pass down the line. ”I felt my speed around the court was just about useless,” said Lewis, who collected more money, $55,000, than he had earned all year on the tour. For McEnroe, feeling comfortable on the court was another important factor. In recent years, all his Grand Slam finals had been four- or five-set struggles against the formidable Bjorn Borg or Jimmy Connors. This time, however, once the top-seeded Connors had been eliminated by Curren in the fourth round and Curren sidelined by Lewis, McEnroe needed only to solidify his position. ”I don’t think anyone would have beaten him today the way he played,” Lewis said, when asked how Connors or Borg might have fared. McEnroe’s 43rd title. Stats of the final