Teens Show Edberg, Becker the Way Out : French Open: For the first time in a Grand Slam event, the top two seeded players both are eliminated in the first round.
So, Stefan Edberg, who is going to win the French Open?
“I have no idea,” Edberg said. “I know I’m not going to.”
And you, Boris Becker?
“Someone besides Boris Becker,” he said.
Some heavy timber fell unexpectedly at the French Open on a sunny Tuesday when Edberg and Becker, the two top-seeded players, lost in the first round in a shocking tennis double play of record-breaking proportions.
Edberg is the No. 2 player in the world, the 1988 Wimbledon champion, the 1989 Wimbledon runner-up and the 1989 French Open runner-up.
Becker is the No. 3 player in the world, the 1989 Wimbledon champion, the 1989 U.S. Open champion and the 1988 Wimbledon runner-up.
They’re both gone.
The defeats of Edberg and Becker marked the first time that the No. 1- and No. 2-seeded players lost in the first round of a Grand Slam event.
Edberg became the first No. 1 in the 99-year history of the French Open to take the court and lose in the first round, a shocking 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 defeat by 19-year-old Spaniard Sergi Bruguera.
About four hours later, Becker joined Edberg to form an entry in the record book. Goran Ivanisevic, an 18-year-old Yugoslav with a devastating serve, ousted Becker, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.
It was Becker’s first first-round defeat in 22 Grand Slam events. Edberg’s only other first-round defeat in 28 Grand Slam events was in the 1983 U.S. Open when Aaron Krickstein beat him.
Ivanisevic, who is 6 feet 4, served 19 aces, an extraordinary feat on the slow, red clay. Ranked No. 51, he reached the round of 16 in last year’s French Open after appearing on the scene as a qualifier in the quarterfinals of the 1989 Australian Open.
“He was just playing out of his mind,” Becker said. “I was hoping he would get tired, but it was the other way. He was getting better and better.
“He just kept serving and hitting and hitting. And in the fourth set, nobody in this world could stop him.”
Ivanisevic agreed: “In the fourth set, there is no chance for him.”
He said he felt no pressure because he believed that Becker would not yet be at his peak in the first round.
Then there was the matter of Bruguera’s upset victory over Edberg.
“I say, ‘Bruguera beat Edberg, why cannot I beat Becker,’ you know,” Ivanisevic said. “I say, ‘Come on, (it) is your chance. He is not playing well, he is not confident.’ ”
Edberg’s record-setting departure looked as if it would stand alone for a while. In the 1965 French Open, top-seeded Manuel Santana defaulted in the first round, but he never made it to the court.
Up an early break, Edberg gave it back in a hurry and deflated quicker than you can say souffle.
For the Swede, everything went wrong. He came in when he shouldn’t have, he stayed back when he should have come in, he couldn’t keep his backhand on the court and he couldn’t even toss the ball up straight on his serve.
Tony Picard, Edberg’s coach, found the defeat so upsetting, he was ready to take it out on his client.
Question: What is your reaction?
Picard: It isn’t printable.
Q: What are your plans?
Picard: Apart from kicking his butt?
Actually, Bruguera already did that for him. The 6-1, 160-pound former Spanish junior champion who is ranked No. 46, last made his presence felt in the 1989 Italian Open, in which he beat Jimmy Connors and reached the semifinals, and in the 1989 French Open, when he made the fourth round.
Down, 4-2, in the first set, Bruguera lost only three more games. “I didn’t think it would be that easy,” he said.
Coached by his father, Luis, Bruguera lost to Edberg, 6-0, 6-3, this spring at the Newsweek Champions Cup, but that was on a hard court. Bruguera credited his victory to playing on clay, as well as a change of emotion.
“In my head, I had to be very calm,” he said.
Becker accepted his defeat by Ivanisevic calmly.
Neither he nor Edberg had an easy draw. Bruguera and Ivanisevic are both accomplished clay-court players. Such luck of the draw is one of the pitfalls of Grand Slam events, Becker said.
“You never know,” he said.
Possibly, but it is now certain that Ivan Lendl will keep his No. 1 ranking. Lendl, who skipped the French Open to practice on grass for Wimbledon, would have lost No. 1 to Edberg or Becker if one of them had won here.
Becker was asked if he might change his plans--start practicing on grass and erase Lendl’s head start.
“Until 30 minutes ago, I was thinking I would win a few matches here,” Becker said. “I tell you this, I’m not going to Wimbledon tomorrow. Lendl is safe.”