Through three rounds of lack of competition, the U.S. Open women’s field seemed on a crusade to crack down on all that noise and unruly spectator behavior at the National Tennis Center.
If you can’t get the fans to shut up, you can always put them to sleep.
Boredom and predictability approached new heights as the top-seeded names continually pummelled the draw’s lesser minions. Lunch lasted longer than most matches.
But, in the end, Pam Shriver had it right. As she predicted, moving to the round of 16 was all the women’s tournament really needed.
Monday, matches actually averaged more than an hour. Martina Navratilova actually worked up some perspiration. There was even a thrilling comeback and--brace yourself--an upset.
Yes, the round of 16 produced some highlights. Believe it or not, but:
--Navratilova, who lost exactly six games in her first three matches, was nearly dragged into a tiebreaker by Sweden’s Catarina Lindqvist. Navratilova still won in straight sets, but the 6-4, 7-5 final score left evidence of a struggle.
--Helena Sukova, down to facing match point in the second set and trailing, 5-3, in the third, rallied to beat Carling Bassett, a semifinalist here in 1984, 4-6, 7-6, 7-5.
--And, in the last match of the night, Steffi Graf, seeded 11th, scored an upset over Manuela Maleeva, seeded eighth, by scoring a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Graf’s triumph prevented what would have been a U.S. Open first: All eight top-seeded players advancing to the Final Eight.
It would have been a fitting landmark, considering the form displayed by the women so far. But Graf showed it was possible: The unexpected can happen for the women here.
Thus, the pairings for the quarterfinals, which will be held today and Wednesday:
--Chris Evert Lloyd (No. 1) vs. Claudia Kohde-Kilsch (No. 5). Lloyd swept Robin White, 6-2, 6-4, and Kohde-Kilsch eliminated Wendy Turnbull, a 1984 U.S Open semifinalist, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
--Navratilova (No. 2) against Zina Garrison (No. 6), a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Kate Gompert.
--Hana Mandlikova (No. 3) vs. Sukova (No. 7). Mandlikova ousted Kathy Jordan, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.
--Shriver (No. 4) vs. Graf. Shriver stopped Alycia Moulton, 6-2, 6-4.
Of Monday’s events, Lindqvist’s play against Navratilova may have been the most noteworthy. Navratilova’s last two victims fell in 42 and 37 minutes.
Lindqvist succeeded in giving Navratilova her first workout of the tournament.
“It was good to have a close match,” Navratilova said. “I had to play well . . . I wouldn’t compare those players (in the early rounds) to Catarina. She’s in the Top 10 and she’s a very good player.”
Lindqvist comes from Sweden, where men play tennis well enough to win the Davis Cup and place five names in the world’s Top 15. Women’s tennis in Sweden is not quite as developed.
“I hope we get stronger,” Lindqvist said. “I am the only one in the Top 15. The next one, Carina (Karlsson), is 60 or so.
“Before I may have felt overshadowed by the Swedish men, but now they are so good they deserve all the publicity they get.”
And Lindqvist now deserves a hand. She’ll be remembered at this U.S. Open as the first to give Navratilova more of a challenge than a tennis ball machine.
Joakim Nystrom made the big news by taking out Boris Becker, but two of his countrymen joined him in the men’s quarterfinals with fourth-round victories Monday.
Mats Wilander, seeded third, turned back Greg Holmes, 7-6, 6-1, 7-5, and Anders Jarryd (No. 6) got past Tim Mayotte, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4. Those wins set up an all-Swedish quarterfinal between Wilander and Jarryd.
If Stefan Edberg can beat Jimmy Connors today, Sweden will own one-half of the quarterfinal draw. It’s possible to have three Swedes among the men’s final four.
With that in mind, the traditionally stoic Swedes are even getting a little excited.
“I was really pumped up today,” Wilander. “When you reach the quarters, it’s important to keep yourself up.