Martin, a Losing Finalist in ’94, Makes an Earlier Exit This Time : Tennis: Eighth-seeded American is ousted by Russia’s Kafelnikov. McEnroe also is beaten.
The fortunes of the Americans who remained in the Australian Open ebbed and flowed today, following the unique rhythm of this tournament that has offered up rain and then searing heat, often in the same day.
Todd Martin, the tournament’s eighth seed, was beaten by 10th-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov on another warm day at the National Tennis Center. The 20-year-old Russian kept Martin moving and won, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
Kafelnikov’s victory solidifies his reputation as one of the game’s most improved players. Last year, Kafelnikov rose in the rankings from 100 to 11 and began the year at No. 10.
The parade of Americans mostly headed in the direction of the exits. The exceptions came among the women. Sixth-seeded Lindsay Davenport won in Sunday night’s match against Brenda Schultz, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. Moments before Martin’s loss today, Marianne Werdel Witmeyer, one of two American women left in the quarterfinals, defeated Austrian Barbara Paulus, 6-2, 6-3.
But soon after, Floridian Mary Joe Fernandez, the 11th seed and twice a finalist here, lost to Naoko Sawamatsu of Japan, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
Late in the afternoon, Patrick McEnroe, who had beaten Boris Becker in the first round, lasted 3 1/2 hours before Dutchman Jacco Eltingh won, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 5-7, 6-4.
The American flagbearer, Andre Agassi, was set to play Monday night, against Patrick Rafter, the only Australian left in the tournament.
Flags of many nations are being taken down, as upsets and predictable exits whittle the field to eight. The Germans are out, having begun the tournament without the women’s No. 1, Steffi Graf. Gone are Becker and Michael Stich. Anke Huber, the last German here, was eliminated by Mary Pierce on Sunday. The Germans take such things seriously. It is the first Grand Slam event since Wimbledon in 1984 that not one German player is in the quarterfinals.
Martin’s play was as bland as his personality and Kafelnikov was able to capitalize on every weakness.
“You’ve got your bad days and you’ve got your good days,” Martin said. “Today was a bad day for me and Yevgeny had a good day. That’s about all I can say.”
Martin made no mention of his 50 unforced errors and his inability to convert on but one of four break-point chances.
Martin was in the final here last year but has gone all but unnoticed this year. He had not once been requested by the media and attended his first news conference today. He entered the room and said, “I’m Todd Martin, how are you?”
Fernandez might have needed help to identify her opponent before last week. Sawamatsu received the news that her family’s home was destroyed in the earthquake in Japan last Tuesday, then went out and won her opening match. She hasn’t lost since. Against Fernandez, who is ranked seven places higher, Sawamatsu ran down every ball and kept her errors to a minimum while Fernandez committed 52 unforced errors.
“She played very well,” Fernandez said. “She got off to a good start in both sets. I think I made too many unforced errors against someone like Naoko, who gets a lot of balls back and doesn’t make too many mistakes.”
There was little Werdel Witmeyer could say in assessing her match, so effortless did it seem. Paulus was reported to have been suffering from a migraine headache during the match, but Werdel Witmeyer played well enough to beat most players.
“It couldn’t have gone much better, I guess,” she said. “Everything felt great. It felt like I played really well and concentrated really well.”
McEnroe got off to a horrible start against Eltingh, losing the first two sets and giving Eltingh ample break-point opportunities.
Eltingh, 24, took advantage and used his own serve to great benefit. While Eltingh’s serve is not blessed with velocity, his placement is precise. Eltingh served 34 aces, a high for the tournament. He also hit 84 winners.
McEnroe, who in the week before the Australian Open won his first tournament as a professional, had a good run here.
“I’ve come back from two sets down and won a couple of times,” he said. “But I had to fight in every game today. It was all uphill, I was never ahead. That had an affect at the end of the match. I never felt like a I had a minute to rest.”