How does Stefan Edberg play Wimbledon?
Very quietly. It seems as though the only sound he makes here comes from the ball meeting the strings of his racket. But this is routine stuff for the silent Swede, who is once again slipping almost unnoticed through the tournament.
On a blustery Saturday, Edberg blew both hot and cold, yet arrived in the quarterfinals relatively unscathed with a 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-2, 9-7 victory over Amos Mansdorf of Israel.
Edberg's opponent in the next round is Michael Chang, who also took the long road in his third-round match. Chang came from two sets down to defeat Mark Kratzmann of Australia, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
Chang, who is 6-1 in five-set matches, explained how he does it: "You never know."
Edberg was able to shine some light on his ability to creep through the draw without drawing much attention. There are two reasons why he can do this, Edberg said. They are Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker.
Although the majority of the attention has been reserved for Lendl, seeking his first Wimbledon title, and Becker, a three-time winner, Edberg cruises along at his own pace.
He drives from his home across the Thames in Kensington, beats somebody, then goes out to dinner with his Swedish girlfriend, Annette Olsen, and coach Tony Pickard.
In the last three years, Edberg has reached at least the semifinals, winning it all in 1988 and losing in the finals in 1989. In that period, neither Lendl nor Becker has a better record at Wimbledon, although they both are always more publicized.
"That's always the case, isn't it," Edberg said. "It's not a big surprise. I guess that's the way I like it. I just take it as it is.
"A lot of people are talking about Lendl because he has put in a big effort to win this one," he said. "Becker, of course, there is always a lot of talk about him when Wimbledon comes up. I'm sort of somewhere behind there.
"It is sort of a good position to be in," he said. "I don't feel I've got too much pressure. Now I'm in the second week and I know that if I play well, I can go all the way."
Darkness prevented Lendl from getting a step closer to his goal. His match with Bryan Shelton of Huntsville, Ala., was halted at one set apiece at about 7:15 p.m., English time.
That was about a half hour after police evacuated about 10,000 people from Centre Court because of a bomb scare. No bomb was found, but police have been extra vigilant because a terrorist bomb exploded Monday at a posh London club, injuring nine people. Saturday's bomb scare forced the suspension of a doubles match in which Jim Grabb and Patrick McEnroe led Ken Flach and Robert Seguso, 6-1, 3-4.
During the bomb scare, the Lendl-Shelton match continued on Court 1 with Lendl winning the first set, 7-6 (7-2), and Shelton taking the second, 7-6 (7-4).
Both will be completed Monday, as today is an off-day.
In other action, Brad Pearce of Provo, Utah, who had never won three matches in one pro tournament, chose a good time to do it. Pearce, 24, a 5-foot-9 former UCLA star, defeated 6-8 Milan Srjeber of Czechoslovakia, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
Pearce's Wimbledon experience has not always been so glowing. He lost in the first round of 1986 and failed to qualify the last three years. To celebrate his victory, he plans to take today off and spend time with his wife, Cindi, and 18-month-old daughter, Jordan.
"Maybe a little picnic, Kentucky Fried Chicken," Pearce said.
But if Pearce emerged in the fourth round, the hopes of three other Americans were deep-fried.
Ninth-seeded Jim Courier of Plant City, Fla., lost to Mark Woodforde of Australia, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, Jim Grabb of Tucson lost to Christian Bergstrom of Sweden, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-2, and Alex Antonitsch of Austria defeated David Pate of Las Vegas, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
For a while, Edberg's progression was interrupted by Mansdorf, who scored a service break in the first game of the third set. Edberg drilled an easy volley into the net and kept running to his chair, where he threw his racket to the ground in disgust.
Mansdorf's one-set lead didn't last. His serve was broken twice in the fourth set, which Edberg won quickly. But in the fifth set, Mansdorf's serve returned.
At 7-7, Mansdorf speeded his own downfall by double-faulting, and then Edberg made the most of a single break-point opportunity. Mansdorf looked at a softly hit volley right at him, nudged it into the net, then buried his head in a towel.
Pickard pumped his fists. "It was brilliant," he said. "He had only one chance and he took it."
Edberg quickly closed out the 3-hour 3-minute match on his serve. Then he pronounced the match a complete, if quiet, success.
"I think a match like this is probably going to do me a lot of good," Edberg said. "It's good to get one of these matches out of the way, where you really have to fight. He gave me only one chance and I was lucky to take it."