Brian Gottfried had just destroyed Manuel Orantes in the semifinals of the Volvo Tennis Classic yesterday at Smith Center, but minutes after the match his mind was clearly not on tennis.
"Anybody got the (NCAA) basketball scores," he asked, beating the media folks to the first question on the post match press conference. And later, when someone asked him to pick a favorite in last night's second semifinal match between Raul Ramirer and Roscoe Tanner, he quickly shot back "Arkansas."
Gottfried, top seed in this tournament and the world's fifth-ranked player, was scoring at will with quips in the interviews and deadly first serves on the court yesterday in advancing to the final of a tournament he won last year.
Gottfried had 11 services aces and hit in 42 of his 58 first serves on the way to a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Orantes, the third-seeded player in the tournament who had a legitimate excuse for his lethargic play yesterday.
Orantes did not leave the arena until 1 a.m. yesterday after playing almost five hours in singles and doubles competition Friday night, giving him only 12 hours off before playing Gottfried.
Clearly, it was not enough. "I felt out of everything," Orantes said. "I was trying, but my legs wouldn't move. On so many of his serves I couldn't even get my racket in position. It was very frustrating."
Yet, the way Gottfried was mixing up his serves, putting away his volleys and moving his opponent from side to side, Rip Van Winkle wouldn't have had enough rest to prepare for this one-sided affair.
Gottfried's strategy was simple enough.
"His return of service off the backhand is so good, I felt I had to mix up my serve," he said. "I was trying to keep him guessing so he couldn't get grooved on that backhand return."
Mostly Orantes was guessing why he even bothered to show up. Frequently he held a running conversation in Spanish with his wife sitting in the stands. The translation: "What am I doing here?"
Gottfried took advantage of Orantes' ineffective first serve to win four straight points and break serve in the third game of the first set. Orantes netted two routine backhands in the game, then lost his serve when Gottfried hit a sweet crosscourt topspin forehand winner.
Orantes had four break points in the eight game of the set, but Gottfried rallied twice before holding serve when Orantes netted a running backhand from deep in the right corner of the court.
Gottfried's booming serves, including two straight aces, gave him a 40-0 lead in the 10th game and a short volley at triple-set point gave him the first set, 6-4.
Gottfried wasted no time in taking charge in the second set breaking Orantes in the first and third games. Orantes came back in the sixth game, even though Gottfried hit in five of his six first serves, and broke through when Gottfried netted a volley.
But Gottfried broke right back, winning the seventh game on a topspin lob that left Orantes shaking his head and talking to his wife once again. The translation: "Help!"
He got none from Gottfried, who hit two more aces for a 40-0 lead, and won the set and the match when an Orantes backhand went deep on the final point.
"All during the match, I just told myself to not get into any kind of pattern against him," Gottfried said. "Yes, I was pleased with the way I played."
And then, presumably, he went off to watch a basketball game.