1984 – 1985, Wimbledon
June 25, 1984; 128 Draw (16 seeds) – $993,365; Surface – Grass
First round: (United Press International)
Top seed John McEnroe, behaving impeccably for a packed Center Court and letting his racket speak for him, today began defense of his Wimbledon singles crown with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1 victory over Paul McNamee. McNamee saved three match points in the 3rd set. The volatile American, reassured there would be no witch hunt against him because of his truculent reputation, produced nothing to excite officials or the suspicious British press in his first-round match except a flawless, 155-minute display against the plucky Australian. All England club chairman Buzzer Hadingham personally wrote to McEnroe on the eve of the championships, welcoming him to the $2.2 million tournament and promising umpires would not single him out for unfavorable treatment. “I’ve decided to let my racket do the talking,” McEnroe said. “I am just concentrating on my tennis.” The 25-year-old New Yorker, bidding to become the first American to capture back-to-back titles since Don Budge in 1937-38, stirred fresh antagonism among British sports writers earlier this month when he acted up at a grasscourt prep, calling the umpire a “moron.” Officials lectured players last night about their conduct during the championships and Hadingham said referees would be supported if they took ”drastic action” against temperamental stars. “I would like to think that John McEnroe is facing a fortnight when he is not going to blow his top,” Hadingham said. Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia, seeded to meet McEnroe in the final and keenly aware that he has handed the American his only defeat in 49 matches this year, was pushed to five sets by American Dick Stockton on No. 1 court. Lendl, French Open champion but so far without a Wimbledon crown during his big money career, recovered from losing the first to outlast Stockton, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. In the first upset of the championships, Swedish No. 10 seed Anders Jarryd was beaten 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 by Scott Davis, a 21 year-old Californian ranked 24th on the ATP list. Jarryd handicapped himself with a series of unforced errors and poor serving and grew timid of approaching the net. Davis, meanwhile, grew in confidence with a positive serve and volley philosophy. Sweden’s ninth-seeded Henrik Sundstrom breezed past Belgium’s Bernard Boileau 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-4 on the back of a typically strong service game. The 20-year-old right-hander, winner of this year’s Monte Carlo Open and one of the few leading Swedes to favor a one-handed backhand, broke the Belgian champion in the eighth game to wrap up the first set and always was in command of the tie breaker to win the second. Boileau reasserted himself briefly in the third set but a perfectly placed drop shot in the 9th game of the third set gave Sundstrom the vital break o serve he needed to wrap up the match. American-based Nduka Odizor of Nigeria, who as a qualifier scored a surprise first-round win over Guillermo Vilas last year before advancing to the last 16, defeated American Jeff Turpin, 6-2, 7-5. 7-6(4). The Nigerian, nicknamed “The Duke,” showed a flair for shotmaking at the crucial moments and always held the edge in service. Argentina’s Jose Luis Clerc, the No. 8 seed, joined seventh-seeded Frenchman Yannick Noah on the sidelines, withdrawing at the last minute due to illness without playing a stroke. In other action, Sweden’s Joakim Nystrom defeated American Tim Wilkison 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-5, 7-5, West Germany’s Hans Schwaier upset Indian veteran Vijay Amritraj 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 and Tom Gullikson beat fellow American Hank Pfister 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. Kevin Curren, the 11th seed, who last year put Connors out of the tournament with 33 aces, nearly lost to his equally hard-serving friend Steve Denton. Denton held a two-sets-to-one lead, but Curren came back to win, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4. Jimmy Connors, the third tier in the tennis trinity, played a long, drawn-out affair with Lloyd Bourne, eventually winning, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4. Connors, who likes to play better gradually at the major tournaments, said he wasn’t concerned any longer with his fourth-round loss here last year. “I don’t think about losing last year, just like I don’t think about winning here the year before,” he said. Once again, Connors fielded an inquiry about his “mellowing,” especially in the McEnrovian era. “I haven’t changed that much,” Connors said. “It’s just that there’s someone out there who’s worse than I was.” 16-year-old West German, Boris Becker made a sensational Grand Slam debut (fifth tournament overall) trashing American Blaine Willenborg 6-0, 6-0, 6-4.
Second round: Steve Goldstein
Pat Cash is a strapping lad from Down Under, a former participant in the controlled violence of Australian football and a fan of heavy-metal rock bands. He plays tennis with strength rather than touch. Don’t get him angry. Former Aussie star John Newcombe did, saying that comparing Cash to Mats Wilander was “like comparing a crack in the wall to the Grand Canyon.” Yesterday, the unseeded Cash took it out on Wilander, scoring Wimbledon’s first major upset by ousting the fourth seed on Centre Court, 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in a fierce battle of 19-year-olds. Determination didn’t seem to be enough as the Swede took the opening tie-breaker in a well-played first set. It was obvious, however, that Wilander was taking something off his serve and his volley in deference to his injured right wrist. Characteristically, Wilander later refused to use the wrist as an alibi, saying that it didn’t hurt all that much. Cash knew otherwise. “I think his wrist injury stopped him from serving as well as he can,” Cash said. “He was serving at maybe three-quarters pace, and that was perfect for me.” The second and third sets fell rapidly to the Australian, as Wilander could do nothing to stem the Cash flow. He broke Wilander’s serve to open the 4th set and had two break points for a 4:1 lead, but Wilander rallied to hold serve and break Cash in the ensuing game for 3:3. Cash got the final edge by breaking the Swede in the ninth game with a miraculous off-balance forehand cross-court volley. Wilander managed to stave off one match point in the next game, but he lost the match on a classic Cash serve-and-volley combination. The other seeded men came through yesterday in fine form, for the most part – particularly John McEnroe, who thrashed helpless Rodney Harmon 6-1, 6-3, 7-5, in 1 hour, 48 minutes. Bill Scanlon, the 14th seed, scored an equally impressive victory, defeating Israel’s Shahar Perkiss, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3, and is only one triumph away from a fourth-round meeting with arch-enemy McEnroe. Chris Lewis, McEnroe’s unseeded opponent in last year’s final, fell in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, to India’s Ramesh Krishnan. The New Zealander’s second-round loss was the earliest departure by a finalist from the preceding year since defending champion Manuel Santana was beaten in the first round in 1967. Ivan Lendl, who is growing accustomed to the pace on grass, avoided upset on Court 2, Wimbledon’s Bermuda Triangle, with an easy 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Derek Tarr of South Africa. “I just play automatically, almost like a machine, and it feels very well,” said Lendl. The Czech never had to get out of first gear. A third straight day of sunny, dry weather saw the promising newcomers split their matches. Greg Holmes, the 1983 collegiate champion, lost to local hero John Lloyd in four sets, while Scott Davis, who recently eloped with Susy Jaeger, Andrea’s older sister, knocked off Joakim Nystrom, his second straight Swede. Davis will now take on Lloyd. Gianni Ocleppo of Italy is No. 46 and had beaten Jimmy Arias only once in six matches – two years ago, in fact, when Arias was 17. Still, the Italian was up two sets to one and got into a fourth-set tie-breaker. Arias won the tiebreaker, and took the match 7-5, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 . “I played well for me today,” Arias said, but added that he still feels kind of disoriented. “I’m kind of lost out there,” he said. “I’m not sure of myself.” Grass is a serve-and-volley surface, but Arias said he is reluctant to come to the net. If he gets his first serve in, he said, he can control the point. Anything less than a high first-serve percentage and he is in trouble. Arias is improving, yet he will have to improve a lot more in his next round. His opponent will be South African Danie Visser who, despite being ranked at No. 80, likes the grass and has not lost a set in two matches here. Johan Kriek, a compatriot of Visser’s who has become an American citizen, also is no stranger to grass. His opponent, Stefan Edberg, won the junior singles title here last year on the way to winning a junior Grand Slam. The Swede looked to be well on his way to making a dent in the big boy’s draw when he took the first two sets from Kriek (6-4, 7-6). Edberg got all the way to 4:4 in the 3rd set before yielding his first break point to Kriek, which the seeded player immediately capitalized on. That moment seemed to turn things around, for Kriek won the next three games, and seven of the next eight to draw even in the match. With his Prince Valiant haircut flapping in the breeze, Kriek gave the teenager a lesson is using all the angles of the court. His passing shots found the mark, and Edberg quickly tired of the torment, playing listless tennis in the final set, which was a 6-1 duplicate of the fourth set. Edberg is a promising player. Of the three Swedes who bit the grass yesterday – Nystrom and Stefan Simonsson, who lost to Jimmy Connors, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3, were the others – he is clearly the most talented. In fact, his route into the quarterfinals would have been relatively easy had he won yesterday.
Third round: Steve Goldstein
Third-seeded Jimmy Connors, twice a Wimbledon champion, broke the all-time record of singles victories at the famed grass-courts tournament Friday to advance to the fourth round. Connors, who captured the men’s singles title in 1974 and 1982, fought off a determined bid by Marty Davis, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4, for his 65th Wimbledon singles victory in 14 years. The triumph broke the old mark of 64 set by Britain’s Arthur W. Gore between 1888 and 1927. “It is an honor to have won the most matches at Wimbledon than any other male player, but I play to win tournaments, not matches,” Connors said. “Maybe if I had won three or four more matches, I would have won this tournament a lot more. Hopefully, I am not finished yet.” Davis gave Connors all the 31-year-old left-hander could want in their third-round battle. “We played some good tennis out there,” Connors said. “Marty is a good player, especially on grass, and he was booming his serve.” Winning certainly wasn’t easy for Connors in the fading daylight on Court No. 1. He fell behind 4:2 in the opening set, only to reel off the next four games. And in the second set, after Connors jumped off to a 2:0 lead, Davis ripped off three straight games before the battled into a tiebreaker, which Davis won, 7/4. Connors dominated the third set, and although he closed out the match in the fourth, it wasn’t all that easy as he was forced to work for every single point. Three seeds were upset in this fifth day of play, including No. 9 Henrik Sundstrom of Sweden, who was ousted by Australian Mark Edmondson, 6-7(2), 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 8-6, in a second-round match that began on Thursday but was halted by darkness after four sets. Heartbreak and heroism played leading roles at Wimbledon yesterday, capping the first week of the world’s premier tennis drama. John McEnroe advanced smoothly with a tranquil 6-0, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Wally Masur of Australia. But the storm flags were raised immediately afterward, for his opponent tomorrow in the fourth round is Bill Scanlon, a man who gets under the defending champion’s skin and who beat him at last year’s U.S. Open. Another interesting match-up will be that of Pat Cash, a talented young Australian, and Kevin Curren, who put out Jimmy Connors here last year. Cash lost only seven games to Cassio Motta of Brazil, while 11th-seeded Curren needed a tough 4-setter, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(3) to subdue Ramesh Krishnan. Curren had more than the graceful Indian to contend with. In the early hours, he learned of the death of his father in South Africa. Curren decided to continue through the tournament. Boris Becker‘s career is just beginning. The 16-year-old West German – the youngest male to reach the third round here – suffered a large setback when he tore ligaments in his left ankle. Becker, a strong right-hander with reddish-blond hair and a fearsome high-kicking serve, was giving Scanlon a difficult time on Court Two. They had split the first two sets, and Becker narrowly lost the third-set tiebreaker, 8/6, after leading, 4:1. The German was a service break up and was serving at 2:1, deuce in the 4th set, when he followed his serve to the net and attempted a forehand volley. Suddenly, he crumpled to the ground with a scream. Scanlon raced around the net to see what had happened. “His ankle had already swollen a couple of inches,” Scanlon said. “It looked as if he had stuffed golf balls in his sock.” Becker said he could not continue. He was carried off on a stretcher and was taken to a hospital, where X-rays revealed the torn ligaments. It was a particularly tragic injury for him, not only because he had a chance to win but because, having just turned professional, he will miss several tournaments to which he had been invited. Becker also was the top seed in the junior championship here. Becker came back on tour three months later.
Fourth round: (Daily Breeze)
Defending champion John McEnroe, playing what he called his best match of the tournament, dismissed Bill Scanlon in straight sets today, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1, as the Wimbledon championships entered their second week. But three other top men’s seeds were eliminated. McEnroe needed a single service break to take the first set in 37 minutes. At *3:2 in the 2nd set, Scanlon, seeded 14th, scored his only service break when McEnroe double-faulted. But the fiery 25-year-old roared back to win eight straight games, take a 2-0 lead in sets and a 5:0 advantage in the final frame. “Once I broke back, I really dominated the match,” McEnroe said. “I was concentrating well, which helped my overall game. If I can just keep that up, I’ve got a good chance the next couple of rounds.” McEnroe and Scanlon had unkind words about each other in post-match interviews Saturday, and today’s contest was seen as something of a grudge match – a chance for Scanlon to avenge his loss to McEnroe here last year or for McEnroe to do the same for his upset at the Texan’s hands in the U.S. Open. The start of play had been delayed by a series of downpours and when it resumed, Johan Kriek went down quickly, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, to 21-year-old Paul Annacone, a qualifier playing in his first tournament after turning pro. Last year, the right-hander from New York was ranked 256th in world. Right behind Kriek was Jimmy Arias, playing out of his element on grass. He fell to Tomas Smid of Czechoslovakia, another clay court specialist, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3. Last to fall was Vitas Gerulaitis, who opened play on No. 2 court with John Sadri and finally succumbed four hours later to the unseeded right-hander from Charlotte 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-3. Jimmy Connors rebounded from an opening-set tiebreaker loss to rout Tim Mayotte, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-0, 6-2. With over 100 tournament victories behind him, Connors is playing in his 14th Wimbledon. Asked whether the spark of enthusiasm was as bright today as in the past, he replied emphatically: “It has never left. I think that’s what keeps my game alive and is why I’ve had such good success the last two years. My desire and my game and the way I play is always the same. Probably the only thing that’s different is that I enjoy the game a lot more now. I’m a little older, I’ve won most everything that I’ve gotten in there to do and a lot of the pressure is off me and on the young guys.” Second-seeded Ivan Lendl narrowly survived a thrilling 2-hour, 42-minute match with Scott Davis, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5. He lost the first set to Davis, a 21-year-old Californian and the most prolific junior our country ever had, with 24 titles. Playing in only his second Wimbledon, Davis was making Lendl look like a cow on grass, breaking his serve in the 10th game and whizzing right into a one-set lead. Lendl is big, 6’2 and 190, but he is not stupid. He saw he’s chipping back Davis’ shots because he wasn’t getting enough leverage. So he moved a couple of feet behind the baseline and started teeing off. He won the second set by breaking Davis in the 9th game and the 3rd set, by breaking him in the 5th game. At one point in the third set, Davis got only three points off Lendl’s serve in seven games, and one of those is on a double-fault. Suddenly, in the 4th set, Lendl went completely off the wheels. He lost seven points in a row, including a final double-fault as Davis pulled square, 7-5. The serve that established Lendl’s dominance in the second and third sets deserted him. Davis was serving big. He’s volleying magnificently. The biggest upset of The Big W was at hand as Lendl was broken again for 0:2 in the fifth set. Lendl not only broke Davis, but did it at love. Davis was broken in other ways as well. He went to his chair for the 90-second rest berating himself, furiously furrowing brow. Lendl came roaring back, whipped 14 aces for the day and won seven of the last 10 games to put Davis away. Final score: 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
Quarterfinals: (United Press International)
On a day when two unlikely fairy tales came to an end before the presence of a real princess, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl powered their way into the Wimbledon semifinals Wednesday with straight-set victories. McEnroe, seemingly invincible, steamrollered his way past John Sadri, one of his favorite patsies, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Lendl, although in bad temper, defeated Czechoslovakian Davis Cup teammate Tomas Smid, 6-1, 7-6(5), 6-3. McEnroe, who says his game is getting sharper and he is enjoying himself more and more on court, now has a match record of 52-1 this year, the only loss coming to Lendl in the final of the French Open. In the semifinals Friday, McEnroe will face unseeded Australian Pat Cash, who claimed his third seeded scalp by beating No. 6 Andres Gomez of Ecuador, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(5). Connors will face Lendl in a rematch of the last two U.S. Open finals. Connors, who won both of those encounters, holds an 11-5 career advantage over Lendl, but in their most recent meeting, at the Tournament of Champions in New York, Lendl humiliated the American by 6-0, 6-0. However, the big story on Centre Court, with Princess Diana attending on a bright, warm afternoon, was the demise of Paul Annacone, a qualifier who had made history by reaching the quarterfinals. Annacone, the 21-year-old New Yorker playing in his first Grand Slam tournament (had already played six Grand Prix events), couldn’t cope with Connors as he dropped a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 decision, at one point losing nine games in a row. McEnroe, who now has beaten Sadri all 10 times they’ve met, dominated their quarterfinal, and in each of his last three matches he has lost only seven games. “I thought I played pretty good today,” said McEnroe, once again a model of decorum. “For some reason I feel pretty good and relaxed. Maybe it’s because all this stuff was going on before and I felt really good about getting on the court. It gives me a chance to show what I can do and shut people up.” Connors, reaching the semifinals for the ninth time, was trailing, 1:2 in the opening set when he ran off his string of nine consecutive games that carried him to 4:0 in the second set. The two-time champion, using lobs to strong advantage against the hard-serving New Yorker, then took control of the final set with a break in the third game. “I played well the last three sets against Mayotte, and I continued doing it today,” said Connors, who won eight games at love, six of them on his service. Looking ahead to his semifinal against Lendl, whose least favorite surface is grass, Connors said, “I think he’s used to the grass by now, he has walked on it enough. He has beaten a few good players here, so he can’t have too much of a weakness.” Cash, bidding to become the first Australian man to win Wimbledon since John Newcombe in 1971, used breaks in the third games of the first two sets to win those sets. Gomez, after blowing a 3:0 lead in the 3rd set, won the tie-breaker, but Cash retaliated by taking the fourth set tie-breaker. Gomez was assessed a code violation for slamming the ball in the second set, just missing a lines-woman, and he received a penalty point in the final set. In reaching the semifinals, Cash, 19, has beaten fourth seed Mats Wilander, No. 11 Kevin Curren and now Gomez, seeded sixth.
Semifinals: Steve Goldstein
Powerful Ivan Lendl wilted under yesterday’s summer sunshine and Jimmy Connors‘ brilliant service returns, while Pat Cash ran short against John McEnroe as the Wimbledon field was reduced to the two men who will vie for the silver Challenge Cup tomorrow. Third-seeded Connors, the two-time Wimbledon champion who always manages to surprise everyone but himself, plucked the second-seeded Czech with a 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 victory in just under 3 hours. McEnroe, the defending champion and top seed, followed with a 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-4 lesson for the unseeded Australian teenager, who nonetheless made it clear that he was a force to be reckoned with. Connors, who will be 32 in two months, certainly recaptured some of his old magic yesterday in beating a man who had taken 20 straight games from him going into the match. The old warrior’s weapons were his trademark service returns, which were never better, and his indefatigable spirit. The latter was the more important in the 86-degree heat on Centre Court. Lendl had been practicing for four or five hours a day on grass since he won the French Open. Connors, in his 13th Wimbledon, doesn’t worry as much about the transition from clay to grass, and he had practiced little more than an hour a day, conserving his energy for his matches. The difference was evident. Lendl won the tie-breaker, but neither man lost his serve in the first set, and the only edge was on the scoreboard. Connors finally broke through in the 2nd game of the 2nd set for a 2:0 lead. Lendl didn’t hold a break point until the final game of the set, and he promptly lost that point with a netted service return. Connors won the next two points, and the match was even. Everything turned on that 68-minute second set. Lendl, who was serving well, never attacked the net, preferring to rally from the baseline. Connors, on the other hand, seized any chance to attack. He showed his confidence on grass, while Lendl showed the reluctance of a relative grass-court novice. Lendl finally broke Connors’ serve in the 4th game of the 3rd set for a 3:1 lead. The Czech had two points for 4:1, but his serve deserted him, and he lost the game. Later, Lendl would have two break points for a 5:3 lead, but he lost those, too. By now, more than two hours into the match, Lendl was showing fatigue. “His legs looked a little heavy,” Connors said. “I was cranking my service returns, and he would stand two feet inside the baseline and not move. I’d hit two groundstrokes and sneak in to the net.” Lendl agreed. “My legs got tired,” he said. “I got a little slower for each shot, and Jimmy took advantage of it.” The advantage came in the long 11th game of the third set, when Connors piled up four break points. Lendl saved the first three, but on the fourth, Connors jumped on a second serve and sent it screaming at the Czech’s feet. The shot was unreturnable. Lendl saved two set points, but not a third. His physical fatigue was now joined by a mental letdown. He sagged in the final set, losing his serve three times. Connors, who will be playing in his sixth Wimbledon final, did not escape unscathed. He had cramps in his tired left shoulder and cut his postmatch interview short so he could receive treatment. It was quite a bit cooler when McEnroe and Cash took Centre Court. They had never played each other before, and the early games were like chess, with each feeling the other out. In the ninth game, Cash double-faulted to give McEnroe set point, then followed with by netting a half-volley. Cash didn’t get his first break point until the 9th game of the 2nd set. McEnroe saved the point, and the Princess of Wales, who’d been watching from the royal box, left, apparently feeling that the defending champion had the match well in hand. It looked as if she had made a rash judgment when Cash went up by 4:1 in the tiebreaker and had two serves coming. But McEnroe then won three straight points and six of the next seven, wrapping up the set with a serve wide to the backhand that the Aussie could only pound into the net. “I knew I had a tough job after losing the second set,” Cash said. “I felt I was playing well. It’s just that the better I returned the ball, the better he volleyed it back. That got kind of frustrating.” Cash finally broke McEnroe’s serve in the 2nd game of the 3rd set for a 2:0 lead. McEnroe broke back for 1:2 but struggled again in his next service game. He had lost the rhythm on his serve, partly because he was restricted by a sore right hamstring and partly because the sky was so blue. “I usually use a cloud to tell where the ball is on my toss,” McEnroe said. “With the sky so clear, I couldn’t judge the ball and was hitting it on the way down.” A couple of cumuli must have rolled in shortly afterward, for McEnroe’s serve improved, while a cloud settled over Cash. A backhand pass by McEnroe cost Cash his serve in the 7th game, and that was all the edge the American needed. An ace (his sixth barely) concluded matters after 2 hours 7 minutes.
Final: (Herald Wire Services)
For this, you got up early on a Sunday morning? The 1984 Gentlemen’s Singles Championship at Centre Court of the All England Lawn Tennis Club was a walkover. Before you could get through the funny papers, John McEnroe, the defending champion, waxed Jimmy Connors, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2, in the serve-and-volley equivalent of a no-hitter. It was a day McEnroe will never forget. He understand, is obsessed with perfection. He wrestles with it. When he fails, even in ways invisible to the rest of us, his mood, his expression, his whole manner of dealing with the world can become ugly. What McEnroe did Sunday was beautiful and, yes, as close to perfect as a performance on a tennis court can be. And McEnroe seemed to realize what he had done. Perhaps it will soothe him on lesser days. For 80 fleeting minutes, McEnroe overwhelmed the crowd at Centre Court and Connors with his artistry. McEnroe was four minutes quicker in beating Connors than Martina Navratilova was in winning the women’s title over Chris Evert Lloyd in two sets Saturday. He made just three unforced errors and allowed Connors a paltry 42 points, only 11 against his service. No matter how long McEnroe continues playing, no matter how many more Wimbledons he wins (he didn’t win another), he will have a hard time surpassing the match he played Sunday. For the first time in a fortnight, McEnroe raised his fist in triumph. Then he cracked a wide smile as he hoisted the winner’s gold cup above his head. The Duchess of Kent asked McEnroe if this wasn’t, in fact, his best performance. McEnroe had to agree with the royal suggestion. “I played about as well I ever have,” said McEnroe, the winner here last year and in 1981 (every time he triumphed in doubles as well). “The thought crossed my mind out there that it’s nice to make your mark on a sport. It’s an honor to be put in the same category as Laver and Borg, to be considered one of the very best.” Connors’ fans understood that their man, appearing in his sixth Wimbledon final, would be doomed if McEnroe’s service was true. So all McEnroe did was fire home 72 percent of his first serves (40 for 55), with 9 aces, 11 service winners and nary a double fault. Was it a historic worst? Hardly. The Wimbledon record for fewest games in the men’s singles final is 20, and the shortest match in the book used up just 37 minutes, when William Renshaw beat John Hartley in 1881. But it was the most lopsided men’s final since 1938, when Henry Austin won only four games from Don Budge, and it made McEnroe the first American man to win consecutive Wimbledons since Budge accomplished it with his victory over Austin. Connors, who offered nothing in the way of an alibi for his lame performance, had a measuring stick of his own. Ten years ago, at age 21, he defeated 39-year-old Ken Rosewall in the final, 6-1, 6-1, 6-4. “I was out there 19 minutes longer than Rosewall,” Connors said of his defeat. Wimbledon fans had hardly put a dent in their seat cushions when McEnroe began to salt the match away. He broke Connors in the second game and held on to take a 3:0 advantage before the two-time champion could compose himself. Connors held at 0:3, but McEnroe broke him again in the sixth game. Serving at 40/30 in the seventh game, McEnroe lashed a service ace at Connors’ feet, and the first set was over in just 21 minutes. “There was a lot of heat out there,” said Connors, and he wasn’t just talking about the 102-degree temperatures (38 Celsius) at Centre Court. “One of those days. He was playing very well, serving real well, and I never got started.” The second set was perhaps worse than the first one. McEnroe broke Connors in the first and third games, his serve frustrating the man who is considered the best in the world at return of service. At 3:0, McEnroe air-mailed an ace on the first point and again on the last, beating Connors at love. Connors finally held service at 1:4 but was playing like a man bound to get out of the heat. In the sixth game, up 15/0, McEnroe fell down chasing a drop shot but got to his feet in time to run down Connors’ passing shot and sail a return over his head. “I was hitting the ball well from the back court and hitting my forehand as well as I have the whole tournament,” said McEnroe, who lost a classic, 4-hour 16-minute, five-set Wimbledon final to Connors in ’82. “He tried playing a serve- and-volley game, which is not the way he plays, and he couldn’t do much with his serve.” Connors played his best game of the match down 1:0 in the third set. But it was far too late for heroics, even though McEnroe had frittered away the French Open to Ivan Lendl last month after leading two sets to none. “I thought about it for a moment,” said McEnroe. “I didn’t,” said Connors. “I didn’t lose the French after being up two-love.” But he lost this one, with McEnroe breaking him in the sixth game and the last. “His game is built around his serve,” said Connors, “and when he serves like that, there’s nothing I can do.” McErnoe’s 54th title (7th major). Stats of the final
June 24, 1985; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $1,093,491; Surface – Grass
There were three sensational under-age triumphs in Grand Slam tournaments in the Open era, all occurred in a span of seven years between 1982 and 1989. As I have recently mentioned in two Roland Garros stories, in Paris triumphed teenagers Mats Wilander and Michael Chang, in London it was Boris Becker… Wilander and Chang stunned all spectators and pundits with a mix of extraordinary mental strength (for their age) and astonishing consistency from the back of the court. Becker was a different case on a different surface. The young tall West German (186 cm, grew 4 cm later on) like the Swede and the American, showed tremendous mental resistance, but in contrary to their counter-punch style, at rainy Wimbledon ’85 he demonstrated an uncompromising attacking game, based on strong serve and a unique net coverage – none player before him had been diving at the net with such an efficiency. He had a relatively lucky draw too, because didn’t face the biggest favorites during the fortnight, they were erased by his final opponent – Kevin Curren, who performed unbelievable tennis in back-to-back matches against champions of the previous four years. The four youngest major champions of the Open era:
1. Michael Chang – Roland Garros 1989 – 17 years 3 months 20 days (fifth major)
2. Boris Becker – Wimbledon 1985 – 17 years 7 months 15 days (fourth major)
3. Mats Wilander – Roland Garros 1982 – 17 years 9 months 15 days (third major)
4. Bjorn Borg – Roland Garros 1974 – 18 years 10 days (fifth major)
First round: AP
Ivan Lendl enjoyed the unique distinction of winning the only match completed today on a rainy opening day at Wimbledon, and John McEnroe settled for winning his first dispute. While 66 other scheduled matches were washed out, Lendl patiently waited four hours for the opportunity to play, and he then defeated American Mel Purcell 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 taking both tie-breakers 7/2. Purcell had a chance to tie the match at one set apiece, but Lendl fought off the set point with a net-cord and went on to take the set on a tie-breaker. In the third set, Purcell saved three match points in a spectacular 10th game at 4:5. The game featured eight deuces, and Purcell eventually tied the set at 5:5 on his seventh game point. The two players then fought to 6:6, sending the third set to a tie-breaker. Lendl grabbed a “mini-break,” winning the second point of the tie-breaker to take a 2:0 lead. He increased his lead to 4:1, captured the seventh point for a 5:2 lead, then won his next two serves to close out the match. “It was not fair to us as players because any bad step could have influenced the match,” Lendl said, referring to the slippery court. “Once I was pulled wide, I had to go for a winner because there was no way I could come back. I don’t think the players should be able to stop the game. I think the referee or umpire should determine when we can’t play,” Lendl added. “I think he made a mistake by letting us play. I’m happy I have it over with and I’m not hurt.” Oddly, and yet typical for Wimbledon, the sun broke through the dark clouds in the course of the match, which concluded at 8:45 p.m.
“It takes more than just playing good tennis to win this tournament,” said Jimmy Connors, a three-time winner of the Wimbledon tennis championships. “You have to learn to cope with the waiting around.” Connors should know, having waited three days because of the rain to play his first-round match against Sweden’s Stefan Simonsson. The 32-year-old American won in straight sets. Despite the weather problems, Buzzer Hadingham, chairman of the All England Club, said there were no plans to change Wimbledon from a grass court event to another surface. Wimbledon wouldn’t be the same if not played on the hallowed grass, he said. Connors did not agree. “I don’t think that losing its surface would hurt Wimbledon at all,” he said. “It will always have the same magic no matter what surface it’s played on.” Slobodan Zivojinovic, a 21-year-old hard-hitting Yugoslav making his Wimbledon debut, scored the first big upset of this year’s championships, when he eliminated fourth-seeded Mats Wilander of Sweden 6-2, 5-7, 7-5, 6-0 in 2 hours 9 minutes. Zivojinovic, ranked 77th in the world, kept the experienced Wilander under constant pressure and gradually wore down the reigning Australian and French Open champion with a mixture of big serves and fine touch play. The rain that had plagued the opening two days of the championships when only eight matches were completed continued Wednesday, morning and delayed play for almost two hours. It finally gave way to hazy sunshine, just long enough for a handful of matches to be completed before a heavy drizzle suspended play again midway through the afternoon. Before the action stopped, the 6-foot-6 Zivojinovic set the tournament alight, blasting Wilander off the court in a 26-minute first set, won with a searing ace. The fast grass court suited his style perfectly and Wilander, one of the world’s leading baseliners, had no answer to his opponent’s serve-and-volley game. In an all too familiar scene, a heavy drizzle fell on the All England Club, forcing spectators to take cover and holding up matches on the 15 outside courts. When the overcast skies finally gave way to hazy sunshine, the action finally began on 13 of those courts, with the other two still drying out following an inspection. John McEnroe, bidding to become the first American to win three consecutive Wimbledon singles crowns, and his fourth overall, admits he still is haunted by Bjorn Borg‘s five-year Wimbledon winning streak. Borg never played Queens, yet consistently reached a peak at Wimbledon. He retired from competitive tennis in 1982. “Borg proved you do not have to play a grass tournament beforehand to win Wimbledon. He won it five years in a row and he was not even a grass court player,” said McEnroe. “This year, I decided after the French championships to go home and rest, practice some on grass and then come over here. That doesn’t mean I’ll win the tournament but I’m not going to use Queens as an excuse if I lose.” McEnroe certainly looked on top of his game against Peter McNamara, crushing the Australian 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a second-round match against either Nduka Odizor of Nigeria or qualifier Gary Muller of South Africa.
Tom Gullikson, the slightly older version of the well-known twins, ousted 12th-seeded Miloslav Mecir, the budding Czech standout, in a five-set thriller, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3. For A change, there was only a short, sputtering interruption of play due to rain in the early afternoon Thursday, so The Championships were finally able to make some headway in 1985. The first round is still not complete, however. Among those taking advantage of the good weather was Boris Becker, who completed a postponed match by thrashing Hank Pfister, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. “I’m in the top 20 (in the world computer rankings) a little faster than I expected,” Becker said. “But I’m playing in a lot of tournaments with people like Connors, McEnroe and Lendl, and there I’m just a nobody. I think that’s good for me. But I am looking forward to not being a nobody.” Like big-hitting Slobodan Zivojinovic, Becker inspires fear and loathing in potential opponents on fast surfaces. ”There’s 124 players I’d rather have played in the draw,” was Pfister’s post-match assessment. The tournament accommodates 128. Australia’s Pat Cash, seeded sixth, survived a five-set tussle with America’s Todd Nelson, and Vitas Gerulaitis, who is unseeded, also needed five sets to outlast Peter Fleming. Cash and Nelson needed two days to complete their match; Gerulaitis and Fleming required bits of three days in the rain-slattered games. Another surprise winner was Greg Holmes, the former NCAA and Pan American champion from Danville, Calif. Holmes surprised Sweden’s Henrik Sundstrom 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2. Sundstrom would have been seeded 16th here if officials of the All England Club had gone strictly by computer rankings. Instead, he was supplanted in the seedings by American Tim Mayotte, a serve-and-volley specialist who has a history of doing well at Wimbledon.
Second round: Steve Goldstein
John McEnroe overcame a cautious start before winning 7-6(1), 6-1, 7-6(1), over Nigeria’s top player, Nduka Odizor. McEnroe, the 26-year-old American left-hander, played below par at the outset, with a number of unforced errors. He needed to call on all his experience to pull out the opening set after trailing 3:5. After winning the first set tiebreaker, he never was behind again but still had to work hard for victory, needing another tiebreaker in the third set to end the challenge of Odizor. Twice, McEnroe shouted at the crowd to keep quiet and twice questioned line calls. But otherwise, he kept his notorious temper in check. In the first set, McEnroe dropped his serve as early as the third game and only when his opponent served for the set did the American manage to break back, producing two well-placed lob shots and two forehand winners. In the tiebreaker, he was back to his best, dropping only one point as he won it 7/1. He lost the opening game of the second set but reeled off the next seven games to lead by two sets and 1:0 in the third. Odizor saved a match point at 5:6 with a big service. But the defending champion again lost only a single point in the tiebreaker and clinched the victory and a third-round spot on his third match point. Boris Becker, the 17-year-old West German who is considered the most dangerous non-seed in the men’s singles, dropped only four games in dispatching Matt Anger of the United States, 6-0, 6-1, 6-3. John Lloyd kept British hopes alive with an exciting upset victory over No. 13 seed, Eliot Teltscher of Palos Verdes Estates. Lloyd appeared on the verge of losing the match when he let slip a two-set lead and trailed 3:5 in the final set. But he hung on grimly to win the next four games and send the center court crowd into joy with a 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 7-5 victory. It was the end of the road, however, for Slobodan Zivojinovic, the 6-foot-6 Yugoslav who took Wimbledon by storm when he upset fourth-seeded Mats Wilander of Sweden Tuesday. In a battle of two big servers, the 21-year-old Zivojinovic was beaten by Heinz Guenthardt of Switzerland 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Each set was decided by a single service break. Nor were the men exempt. Cash and Kriek were gone early in the day, while Ivan Lendl had to endure two rain delays before beating American Mike Leach in five sets, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-4. Lendl, who has had both of his matches delayed by rain, alternated between being overpowering and inept on his serve, recording 26 aces and 22 double faults. Lendl said the disruption caused by the delays didn’t bother him. “The stopping and starting wasn’t too bad,” he said, “because every time we came on the court, we got five minutes to hit. And that’s the most practice time I’ve had since I came to England.”
As for Pat Cash, his tormentor was Ricardo Acuna, who nine days ago was lucky to save two match points in his first qualifying match for Wimbledon at the Roehampton club (Acuna beat Mike Baroch of Australia 6-7, 7-6, 6-3). Cash, 20, a semifinalist here last year and No. 6 seed in 1985, was unable to work any magic when his match with Acuna resumed Saturday after being postponed by rain. Down 3:5 in the fifth set, Cash held serve and saved a match point, but Acuna, 27, ranked 133rd in the world, held serve (to 15) to win the most important victory of his career, 7-6(4), 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(7), 6-4. Acuna ended the match with an ace up the middle. Cash was far from being the only seed to be sidelined on Wimbledon’s sixth day. “I went home and dreamed about serving out the match about 10 times.” Acuna said. “In my dream, I served four aces to win.” Due to an injury Cash didn’t play almost a year after that loss.
Third round: Mark Purdy
And when he was finished Saturday afternoon, he had fashioned a 7-5, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Ramesh Krishnan of India that was in so many ways a typical Jimmy Connors functional victory, characterized as much by determination as skill. At 32, Connors is the oldest remaining male player in the singles competition. He is no longer the boy wonder, who courted Chris Evert in a King and Queen of Hearts romance at the Wimbledon ball when both were Wimbledon champions (1974). His game, once a permanent resident, is gone more often. Saturday’s third-round match against Krishnan, a player ranked 33rd, was a case in point. “I was lucky to win the first set, I lost the second set, I was lucky to win the third and I played well in the fourth,” said Connors, who was trailing, 5:3, 30/0, in the third set before storming back to win the final four games. “Perhaps the best thing about my game is that I play every match like it is the final of Wimbledon or the U.S. Open,” says Connors, who has won five U.S. Open and two Wimbledon titles. “So I have no problems trying to lift my game or be in a groove for a tournament like this. I am no different now than I was two weeks ago at the French (where he lost in the semifinals) or five years ago. I just come in, play my matches and do what it takes to win, and work at it that way.” This must have been what it was like to see Willie Mays as a rookie, romping through the National League like a frisky colt. Or watching Larry Bird as a teen-ager, tyrannizing the outdoor basketball courts in Indiana. Or catching the Rolling Stones on the night they first plugged in their guitars, at some smoky underground club in London. Boris Becker makes you feel that way. He gives you that chill. Each time he takes the court here at Wimbledon, the unmistakable impression is that you are watching The Next Big Thing. You hate to curse anyone with that label, but Becker has only himself to blame. He is from West Germany, and he is just 17 years old, and he is too good. Two weeks ago, he beat the world’s seventh-ranked player – Pat Cash – and won the Queens tournament here in England. And last week he wiped out two more victims in the first two rounds of Wimbledon. One of those victims was Hank Pfister, who did not mince words when asked to compare Becker to John McEnroe at the same age. “McEnroe at age 17 was not as physically strong as Becker is,” Pfister said. “Without question.” Gulp. And what does McEnroe himself think? “Becker,” said McEnroe, “is a dangerous player.” Double gulp. What we have here, plainly, is a brand new Mercedes-Benz pulling into tennis’ parking lot. The sport has desperately been seeking someone to challenge its Rolls Royce troika of media celebrities – McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl. Becker isn’t in their talent category yet. But he already possesses the other necessary ingredients for celebrity: he’s wholesomely cute, with red hair and freckles. He’s lovably cocky, with a swagger that would make Clint Eastwood jealous. And he’s refreshingly quotable, which is more than you can say for most tennis players. The British press has already dubbed him “Boom-Boom” Becker. Others have nicknamed him “The Red Baron.” Last week Becker needed a police escort while walking to and from the court, because the adoring crowds have been so thick. Not since 1977, when McEnroe made the Wimbledon semifinals as an 18-year-old, has a player this young had such impact on a tournament this old. Becker was out there again yesterday on Wimbledon’s Court One, adding to his legend. He was drilling another opponent into the grass with a serve that makes grown men shudder. This time, the opponent was Joakim Nystrom of Sweden. Nystrom is no piece of chopped smörgåsbord (a type of Scandinavian meal). He is the world’s eighth-ranked player, and he shrewdly kept Becker off balance in the opening minutes of their match. Nystrom dinked a ball here and lobbed a ball there, and Becker wound up losing the set, 6-3. But then Becker’s thunderbolt serves took over. In the second set, Nystrom was still working hard for his points, sweating profusely, while Becker was coolly blasting away. He won the set on a tiebreaker. At that point, the umpire halted the match because of darkness. It will continue Monday. “I was a little bit nervous,” Becker said. He wasn’t alone. In the legal gambling parlors of London, where betting on Wimbledon is allowed, odds on Becker have dropped from 38-1 all the way down to 10-1. A London newspaper reported that one man alone has bet 38,000 pounds – about $30,000 – on Becker to win. For an unseeded player who is ranked 20th in the world, that’s quite a display of faith. But it may not be misplaced, according to Ion Tiriac, the former pro from Romania who this year became Becker’s manager-adviser. “Boris could do it,” Tiriac said. “He really could. No. I’ll rephrase that. I won’t say it’s possible for him to win this Wimbledon. But it’s not impossible. For three or four of these seeded players, it’s impossible. They have no chance. But Boris is different.” No arguments there. Germany has not had a player of Becker’s stature since Gottfried von Cramm, who was a Wimbledon runner-up three times in the mid-30s. Von Cramm was an elegant and stylish gent, who captured ladies’ hearts but couldn’t capture a trophy. Becker will probably catch both, eventually. He got into the sport by design. His father is an architect who was hired to build a regional tennis training center in Baden. The family bought a house nearby. Boris was never there. He was over at the tennis center, learning the game. At age 12, he gave up his other sport, soccer, and at age 14, he dropped out of school and took to the tennis road. His dedication is frightening. At the South African Open this year, Becker collapsed of heat exhaustion during a morning match. That afternoon, after a brief rest, he went out and practiced for four hours. “His confidence is so great,” Pfister said, “that it’s almost to the point of arrogance.” McEnroe, an expert on arrogance, agrees with that assessment, to wit: “Becker’s dangerous because he just goes for broke. He doesn’t think a lot about it. He’s at an age where he’s got nothing to lose.” After the resumption, Becker won easily the 3rd set against Nystrom, who took the 4th and was serving twice to win the match in the decider: at 5:4 (30-all – Becker got two points with great backhand returns) and 6:5 (lost the game to 15). “The Boom-Boom” wasted a match point leading 7:6, but finally prevailed 3-6 7-6(5) 6-1 4-6 9-7. Becker’s first five-setter lasted 3 hours 20 minutes, proclaimed afterwards as the match of the tournament, and a new star was born… “I learned that if your opponent is serving for the match, you can come back,” Becker said. ”This win was very much for confidence. If you beat someone who is ranked eighth in the world and (win) 9-7 in the fifth set, and he’s a Swede, then that’s good.” Tim Mayotte almost was among the eliminated. But he took advantage of a rain break to reel off 11 straight games and beat Paul McNamee 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-0. ‘‘It’s funny how it strikes you, but when I came out after that delay, I was very aware that I was going to win,” said Mayotte, a former Stanford player. McNamee felt differently. “The rain made the balls heavier, the court slower and the footing worse,” he said. “It was two totally different games on two totally different courts.” Mayotte, known as “Gentleman Tim” because of his on-court manners, appeared to be on his way out of the competition when McNamee took a 2-0 lead in sets and then forced a third-set tie-breaker. Mayotte, seeded 16th, began his comeback by winning the tie-breaker 7/2, but then he fell behind 2:1 in the 4th set. Rain then delayed the match for more than one and half hours, and after the break, McNamee failed to win a game as Mayotte took the next 11 to clinch a fourth-round match.
Fourth round: Steve Goldstein
On the following day after a thriller against Nystrom in which Becker was two points away from loss, he won another 5-setter, this time finding himself three points away from being eliminated on Court No. 14 against Tim Mayotte. However, in the fourth round, Henri Leconte gathered more media attention ousting Ivan Lendl.
For a long time, Henri Leconte has been dismissed as a French tennis player of immense talent and no discipline. “Leconte does not have limits,” Ion Tiriac once said during the three years that he coached the Frenchman. Some said that Leconte also did not have any consistency, except that he consistently gave Ivan Lendl trouble, even when Lendl was steamrolling everyone else in tennis. Yesterday, Leconte, 22, confounded the Czech once again, beating him for the fifth time in their eight meetings, knocking the second seed out of Wimbledon in the fourth round, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1, in 2 hours, 8 minutes. Leconte said that he could see his adversary tightening up in the latter stages of the match. Coming into Wimbledon, Lendl had been a finalist in four of the last five Grand Slam events he played, and had been a semifinalist here the last two years. Leconte, now ranked 26th in the world, had never gotten past the second round at the All-England Club. Now, Leconte finds himself in the quarterfinals today against Boris Becker, 17, who is under Tiriac’s tutelage. All the West German did yesterday was lose two of the first three sets, sprain his ankle and then come back and defeat Tim Mayotte 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-2 in 3 hours, 33 minutes. Becker, who is unseeded, is the first 17-year-old to reach the quarterfinals here since Bjorn Borg in 1973. “I know how to play Lendl,” Leconte said. “I know where Lendl is serving and I know his game. When you get into his game, he is getting tight and nervous. When I saw that, I thought I had a chance.” Lendl served well in the first set, but his first-serve percentage fell off in the next two sets, and Leconte took them almost as if by Bjorn BorgBjorn Borgright. In the fourth set, Leconte held for 1:0, then broke the Czech’s with a forehand cross-court service return winner for 2:0. After Lendl recovered the service break, Leconte broke again for 3:1, and held from deuce for 4:1. In the sixth game, serving at deuce, Lendl hit a second serve that he believed to be good, but the linesman disagreed. Faced with what was essentially a match point, Lendl screamed at chair umpire Mike Lugg. The Czech earned a slow hand-clap from the crowd, the English version of booing or whistling. Leconte was not concerned that Lugg would overrule and reverse the double fault. “I know in London they do not change,” he said. Leconte got the service break on the next point for 5:1, and then, with Lendl muttering to himself, he served out the match at love. Becker has more to be concerned about. The sprained ankle he suffered in the 12th game of the fourth-set tiebreaker caused him, on doctor’s orders, to default a scheduled doubles match. “It’s not bad, but it’s not good,” he said. When he fell heavily, Becker said that he thought of his fall at Wimbledon last year, when he tore ligaments in the same left ankle. This time, he hobbled around and asked for a three-minute injury timeout. Becker was actually granted a second timeout by referee Alan Mills because the doctor could not get through the crowds to Court 14 in time. Before it happened, Becker had saved a mini-match point at 5:5 with a half-volley (frame of his ‘Puma’ racquet helped him). The incident seemed to throw Mayotte off. “I started thinking about him as opposed to the ball, a little bit,” the American said. Becker played a good tiebreaker, then won three games from 3:2 to take the 5h set and the match. “I just went for the big shots,” Becker said of the last set, “and the big shots came.” After trouncing Becker’s compatriot, Andreas Maurer 6-0, 6-4, 6-2, John McEnroe continued his feud with reporters from London’s tabloid newspapers. “Here, I have not been given the respect I deserve as a three-time Wimbledon champion and two-time runner-up by the media,” he said. Later, McEnroe had an exchange with columnist Michael Herd, who questioned the tennis player about his relationship with actress Tatum O’Neal. At one point, McEnroe told Herd, “I have no respect for people like yourself.” Herd got in the last word, calling McEnroe “a verbal bully.” Three qualifiers to reach the men’s quarterfinals at Wimbledon have been McEnroe in 1977, Paul Annacone last year and now, Ricardo Acuna. Jimmy Connors beat the first two and now has a chance for the hat-trick. Heintz Guenthardt is the first Swiss player since Max Elmer in 1938 to reach the quarterfinals; Leconte, the first Frenchman since Yvon Petra in 1947; Acuna, the first Chilean since Luis Ayala in 1961, and Becker, the first German since Jurgen Fassbender in 1973.
Anders Jarryd of Sweden became the first player to advance into the men’s semifinals, beating Heinz Gunthardt of Switzerland 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Jarryd, the No. 5 seed, never had gotten past the first round at Wimbledon in four previous appearances. But his speed was too much for Gunthardt, who was playing in the quarterfinals of a grand slam tournament for the first time. Three unseeded players were still in the hunt for the men’s title.
Defending champion John McEnroe was eliminated from the Wimbledon tennis championships today, beaten 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals by Kevin Curren, the No. 8 seed. Curren, whose power serving, sharp returns and lightning passing shots contrasted with a strangely listless McEnroe, won in 1 hour 49 minutes to reach the semifinals for the second time in his career. A native of South Africa, Curren, 27, received American citizenship last March. McEnroe, who was aiming to become the first American to win the Wimbledon men’s singles crown three straight times, could not handle the pace of Curren’s game and appeared mentally and physically slow. The 26-year-old New Yorker won the title in 1981, 1983, and 1984 and had not lost a singles match here since Jimmy Connors beat him in the 1982 final. “It was obvious he was hitting the ball harder than me. He just overpowered me,” said McEnroe. “I played a sub-par match and I was surprised how badly I was serving. When you lose, everything seems to hurt a whole lot more. I felt a little old out there. The way I played and felt, I was not as fresh as I would have liked. It just seemed like everything was going against me,” he said. Asked if there was any time in the match when he thought he might still win, McEnroe replied jokingly: “Only if he broke an ankle or something. He completely outplayed me.” It’s beginning to look a lot like Boris. It’s beginning to look as if the world’s oldest tennis tournament might fall into the grasp of the world’s youngest tennis marvel, 17-year-old Boris Becker. Wednesday, he became the youngest man to reach a Wimbledon semifinals. And he couldn’t even drive into London and celebrate. “I have no driver’s license,” Becker explained. “In Germany, you must be 18 to drive. I can’t.” Maybe not. But he can definitely serve and volley. And he can beat Henri Leconte 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, the way he did in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. And the way things are breaking this year, Becker might just motor his way to the championship. “I wouldn’t bet my prize money on anyone,” Leconte said. “But just for a fun bet, I’d pick Becker. I think his age will be a strength when playing in the semifinal. He won’t think about it. He’ll just play. He’s got nothing to lose.” That was the way Becker played Wednesday. He won the first-set tie-breaker by throwing himself all over the court. Then, after a concentration lapse, he won the third and fourth sets with his booming serve. The left ankle he twisted Tuesday didn’t seem to bother him a bit. But the elimination of McEnroe, following by one day the loss of second seed Ivan Lendl, put No. 3 Jimmy Connors in a position to claim his third Wimbledon crown. Connors climbed into the semifinals with a 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-2 victory over qualifier Ricardo Acuna of Chile, ranked 133rd in the world. Surprisingly, though, London bookmakers have established Boris Becker a 7-4 favorite to win Sunday’s final, while Connors is the second choice at 9-4.
Semifinals: Hal Bock
Giant-killer Kevin Curren, again prospering on the grass courts of the All England Club, charged into the men’s final of the Wimbledon tennis championships today, destroying two-time champion Jimmy Connors 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. Two days ago, the eighth-seeded Curren wiped out defending champion John McEnroe with the same kind of devastating, straight-set efficiency, dropping just seven games. The twin triumphs gave Curren two of the most startling consecutive upsets in recent Wimbledon history. He is hardly considered in the McEnroe-Connors class, a situation he does not mind. “I prefer to play as an underdog,” he said. “When a lot is written about you, like McEnroe, it’s tough to play as a champion. It’s better to play a low-key, low-profile role.” Curren’s victory ensured a new name on the men’s trophy this year. Anders Jarryd of Sweden and West Germany’s 17-year-old Boris Becker, neither of whom have ever reached the final, met in the other semifinal later in the day. Connors bowed in 1 hour 32 minutes – 17 minutes less than it took Curren to dispatch McEnroe – as the 27-year-old totally dominated his more highly regarded opponents. “A bad day at the office,” Connors said. “He played well. I’ve played better. On grass I’ve proven I can play with anybody,” said Curren, who was born in South Africa but is a naturalized U.S. citizen and now lives in Austin, Texas. “I’d love to be (among the world’s top five ranked players) in a second,” he said. “But I’ve got to deal with it realistically. I don’t think I’m that gifted on all surfaces. I’m too tall, too slim. But on grass.” On grass, Curren’s booming serve has served him well. Connors simply could not handle it. Curren had 17 aces against one of tennis’ best returners of serve. “He throws it up, boom, boom, boom all the time,” Connors said. “When he’s hot, he’s hot. When he’s holding the balls, he controls the tempo. It’s tough to counteract.”
This long-shot finals will produce a first-time winner of the most famous tournament in tennis – either Curren, 27, a South African who recently rediscovered his fearsome serve, or Boris Becker, the classic on-a-roll prodigy, a youth from Liemen, West Germany, who has gained instant star status in the manner of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Becker gained the finals yesterday by finishing off Sweden’s Anders Jarryd in the resumption of their semifinal, 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-3. It was 1:1 in the 3rd set when play resumed after being suspended, but Jarryd was not the same player who left Centre Court in Friday’s rain. The Swede was helpless against Becker’s booming serve and ineffective with his own. It was as if Jarryd could not stand the pressure and sent in a substitute. ‘‘They were indicating with their hands, like telling him to come up to the net more,” Jarryd complained on Becker’s box. “I don’t think this is why I lost the match, but I think it is something wrong.” Before the match was suspended, Jarryd had two set points leading 5:4*, he also had a mini-break advantage in the tie-break (3:1) before losing six straight points.
Final: Steve Goldstein
Like some overgrown adolescent in a playground, Boris Becker hurled himself around a Centre Court grown bare and sandy with overuse and came up covered with dirt and sweat. “That’s my way to play,” he said. “When I’m diving, I’m getting dirty.” Last year, Becker left Wimbledon in a wheelchair, after a dive in a third-round match cost him torn ligaments in his left ankle. Yesterday, he left Centre Court with the huge, shiny Challenge Cup as the youngest winner ever of both Wimbledon and a Grand Slam tournament. In the end, it was Kevin Curren who could not sustain the torrid serving pace he had set in ousting John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Becker’s higher first-serve percentage, plus the fact that he dropped his serve only once (to three times for Curren), was the main difference in the West German’s 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-4 triumph in 3 hours, 18 minutes. Curren served 47.5 percent on first serves overall, with 19 aces and eight double faults. He was also called for six foot faults. Becker had 21 aces and seven double faults on the way to a 60 percent total on first serves. Boom-Boom indeed. “I’m a human being, not a machine,” said a frustrated Curren in explaining why his devastating serve had left southeast England. “If McEnroe had served like Becker, he’d probably have given me a spanking.” Becker always seemed to come up with a big serve when he most needed it, and his second serve was more effective than Curren’s. As the first German champion in Wimbledon history, Becker set off a general celebration throughout West Germany, and particularly in Leimen, his home town of 17,000 near Heidelberg. One German correspondent, Klaus-Peter Witt of the Bild newspaper, said, “I have to write more about Becker than when a German statesman dies.” And why not? To paraphrase Babe Ruth, Becker has probably had a better year than Helmut Kohl. Becker also is the first unseeded champion since Wimbledon began seeding competitors in 1927. None of the eight previous unseeded finalists, including Wilhelm Bungert of West Germany in 1967, had won so much as a set. Becker won $163,800, or about $15,000 more than he had earned to date as a tennis professional. In becoming Wimbledon champion at 17 years, 228 days, Becker surpassed a record set in 1891, when Wilfred Baddeley won The Championships at 19 years, 5 months. Until yesterday, Mats Wilander had been the youngest Grand Slam tournament champion, winning the 1982 French Open at 17 years, 9 months. After the reddish-blond Becker had pounded one of his numerous near-ace service winners to end the match, he shot both arms into the air in what had become a familiar gesture this Wimbledon. He turned in jubilation to his coach, Gunther Bosch, in the Friend’s Box, then shook Curren’s hand, only to wheel once more to salute his parents, Karl-Heinz and Elvira Becker . The crowd of 14,400 cheered wildly as Becker paraded around the tattered battleground with the Challenge Cup, glinting gold in the late-afternoon sun. A West German flag popped up in the crowd, then disappeared. Who would have believed a 17-year-old could have brought this off? “If anything, I should have had the advantage,” Curren said, “having played in the semifinals before, and playing on Centre Court. But maybe he was too young to know about all that stuff, and he just went out and played.” And how. In fact, it was the eighth-seeded Curren who was nervous at the outset, and those jitters may have cost him the first set. Serving for the first time in the second game, Curren, 27, made three excruciating errors, then double-faulted to lose his serve. “I played a horrific game,” Curren later conceded. “I was maybe too eager, and that set me on the wrong path. That was a key game, and if I’d won that, it might have been a different outcome.” Becker rode that service break to take the set, scoring on 63 percent of his first serves to Curren’s 47 percent. Curren looked bewildered, like the native who emerges out of the South African bush in the film The Gods Must Be Crazy and attempts to cope with modern society. Baron Becker was like culture shock. Curren found his rhythm in the second set, but Becker appeared unflappable. The German saved two break points in the second game. Once he yelled, ”Mensch” – “Be a man” – after a weak shot. The former soccer player took another ball and juggled it on foot, leg and chest. Some nerves. Curren saved three break points in the seventh game, just as a blimp hovered into view – or was it a zeppelin? Becker’s first-serve percentage fell off a bit – it would be 55 percent for the set – and his serve failed him at a crucial juncture. After Becker took a 3:0 lead in the tie-breaker, Curren won five of the next six points to lead, 5:4. With Becker serving, Curren creamed a second serve for a winner, then got another second serve to get into the point, which he won with a backhand pass down the line. The match was even, but the court was not. Centre Court had become the Dirt Bowl, and grassy spots – as well as even bounces – were hard to come by. ”There were some patches where I thought it might be the French Open,” Curren said. “But it was the same for both players.” Becker thought he got some bad bounces when he dropped his serve for the first and only time in the seventh game of the third set and trailed, 3:4. That seemed only to increase Becker’s determination. “I said, ‘Come on, let’s go for it. Try to win every point,‘” Becker said. He nearly did. Curren tried to jam Becker by taking something off his serve and placing it, but Becker came up with big returns, charging back to 40/0 against Curren’s serve. After Curren won two points, Becker broke him with a backhand cross-court passing shot. That set off one of Becker’s impromptu war dances. Later he would call that game the turning point. “That was the point where I thought, ‘Now, I am going to win,’” Becker said. “I was starting to return (serve) better and better, and maybe I had more confidence than Kevin.” Curren staved off a set point in the 10th game and three more in the 12th game to get into the tie-breaker. Becker, meanwhile, was getting down and dirty, flinging himself around the court to earn a skunk-like stripe of sod up his back. Becker bounded to a 6:0 lead in the tie-breaker, thanks partly to his 18th ace, a service winner and Curren’s sixth double fault. Curren saved three more set points, but Becker closed him out with a forehand service-return winner off a Curren first serve. The match was 2 1/2 hours old, and the outcome seemed clear. A change of shirt, and the “stronger than dirt” detergent named Becker scrubbed Curren out of his serve in the first game of the final set. Then Becker saved two break points in the next game to take a 2:0 lead. In the fifth game, Curren saved two break points, but the problem lay in breaking Becker’s serve. “He not only hits it hard, but he places it well,” Curren said. “He has a good wrist snap and a good second serve.” Curren saved a match point while serving at 3:5 when Becker netted a backhand off a Curren volley. But then Becker came up to serve for the match, and he got double match point with his 21st ace. A double fault cost him one match point, but Becker muscled in a service winner to complete his remarkable chapter in Wimbledon history. “It’s my first Wimbledon; I hope it’s not my last,” said Becker, as if anyone could doubt the possibilities ahead of him. “The match was good. Finally, I beat him.” So young. So cool. Becker had seemed so pressure-proof out there. “I’m a human being,” Becker said, “and every human being has feelings. I’m trying not to show my feelings, maybe.” Stats of the final