clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


John McEnroe sounded the alarm in a wild Wimbledon when he warned, "Something freaky might happen." Then he watched the chaos unfold.

No sooner had McEnroe angrily dug divots on Centre Court, scorched the ears of a linesman and barely beaten the skinny, talented son of tennis great Fred Stolle, than a roar erupted on the outer courts with major upsets.Saturday began with the biggest upset of all, sun shining in a blue sky after 28 straight days of rain in London, and the players took their cue.

They blamed the courts - too firm for some, too patchy for others. They cursed the weather that prevented practice most of the week. They swore at officials and electronic eyes that seemed blind on some calls.

But not everyone ranted so crazily.

Jimmy Connors, like Jack Nicklaus a legend in his spare time, scooted happily between the courts and TV commentary. He celebrated his record 100th Wimbledon men's singles match with one of the day's easiest romps, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 over Aaron Krickstein, then dashed to the NBC broadcast booth.

"Right now I've got 15 minutes to be on the air," Connors said a few minutes after the match. "My tennis is finished for the day. Now it's time to go to work."

Andre Agassi had a tougher time but got off court a lot sooner than he did in his rain-delayed first match. Agassi, still learning the ways of Wimbledon's grass, beat Goran Prpic 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 and said he felt "like a qualifier having the best tournament of his life."

Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Martina Navratilova, Gabriela Sabatini and Jennifer Capriati all advanced without much trouble, but left behind some improbable losers.

In women's competition, Navratilova scored straight-set victories. Navratilova won 6-3, 6-1 over Briton Amanda Grunfeld.

Sabatini, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Mary Joe Fernandez and Jennifer Capriati were among 11 seeded women advancing to the third round.

Women's sixth seed Jana Novotna also was ousted.

Sabatini, seeded second, struggled in the early part of her 6-4, 6-2 victory against Karine Quentrec.

Fourth seed Sanchez Vicario defeated Amanda Coetzer 6-4, 6-1 and Fernandez, the fifth seed, won 7-6, 6-1 over Audra Keller.

Capriati, seeded ninth defeated Radka Zrubakova of Czechoslovakia, 6-2, 6-3.

Also winning second-round matches were Zina Garrison, Anke Huber, Amy Frazier and Judith Wiesner.

Garrison, the seventh seed and a finalist last year, defeated Elena Pampoulova 6-3, 6-1. Frazier, seeded 14th, beat fellow American Robin White 7-5, 6-4.

Thirteenth seed Huber defeated American Tami Whitlinger 6-2, 6-1 and Wiesner, seeded 16th, won 6-3, 6-0 against doubles specialist Larisa Savchenko.U.S. Open champion Pete Sampras, 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash and last year's semifinalist Goran Ivanisevic - three of the most dangerous floaters in the field - drowned in the second round.

British fans, long resigned to their men bowing out early, went dizzy with delight as English wild-card entrant Nick Brown scored one of the biggest shocks in two decades at Wimbledon.

Brown, at 591 the lowest-ranked man in the championships, toppled Ivanisevic, the 10th-seeded booming server from Yugoslavia who nearly beat Boris Becker in the semifinals last year.

The Association of Tennis Professionals rated Brown's 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 triumph as the biggest upset here, based on comparative rankings, since it began compiling world rankings in 1973.

At the same time the Brits rallied 'round the Union Jack flying over Brown on Court 13, shouts shattered the tension on Court 3 not far away as unseeded but always difficult Derrick Rostagno beat the slumping Sampras, seeded eighth.

Rostagno, the hard-serving Californian who beat McEnroe in the first round here last year, knocked off Sampras 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 and made the 19-year-old change his mind about playing on grass.

Only two weeks ago, Sampras claimed that grass should suit his serve and volley style and be his best surface.

Sampras, who also lost in the second round on clay at the French Open and has suffered through an injury-filled year, now complained that "of all the surfaces I have played on, grass is the toughest for me."

His only consolation, he said, was that he'll return soon to the hard courts he's played on all his life as he prepares to defend his U.S. Open title.

Cash checked out in a thrilling duel on Court 2, the graveyard of champions, against Frenchman Thierry Champion 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 4-6, 6-1, 12-10.

McEnroe, who plays rock 'n' roll guitar with Cash, left his partner behind by moving into the third round with a 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-0, 7-6 (9-7) victory over 20-year-old Sandon Stolle.

McEnroe returned to Centre Court to team with Ivanisevic in a 6-3, 6-4 upset of defending Wimbledon doubles champions Rick Leach and Jim Pugh.

McEnroe, 32, recalled beating Fred Stolle in a clay court event 15 years ago when the Australian - a winner of all the Grand Slams except Wimbledon - was in the twilight of his career.

"It was really a match he's probably forgotten about now. He got tired about 4-4," McEnroe said.

"I was a young guy, so I know how (Sandon) feels now, but it was strange," McEnroe said of his match against the younger Stolle. "I practiced with him many years ago, when he was maybe 14. He's coming along. He has a good game for grass, and he played well, I thought."

Friendly feelings aside, McEnroe nearly blew his temper and the match as he fumed about a linesman and wasted 13 break points in the first two sets.

McEnroe, standing on the baseline, let Stolle's half-volley fall at his feet in the fourth game of the match. The linesman signaled the ball in, and McEnroe pointed to the spot where he thought the ball landed just beyond the line.

McEnroe, already annoyed at himself about failing to cash in on any of four break points on Stolle's service in the second game of the match and two more in that fourth game, went on to lose that game.

Then after serving to win the first point of the next game, he kept up his complaints and demanded, with a sprinkling of swear words, that the linesman be removed.

McEnroe screamed again when another disputed call by the same linesman cost him another break point in the second set.

"Oh, come on. That ball was clearly outside the line," he yelled. "Which ball were you watching? That's a break point. It didn't hit any chalk at all.

"That's the second break point you robbed me of," he shouted before complaining again in vain to the supervisor for a change of the linesman.

Stolle smiled at the worst of McEnroe's tantrum and after winning the set looked up to see his father, a commentator for Australian television, standing up in the TV booth with his arms raised in triumph.

McEnroe said he didn't see the elder Stolle.

"I missed that," he said. "I saw my wife with her head down in total disgust."