In one of the least memorable days of the French Open tennis championships, Bjorn Borg of Sweden, Eddie Dibbs of Miami, Raul Ramirez of Mexico and Corrado Barazzutti of Italy advanced to the quarter-finals, with straight-set victories yesterday that were almost as colorless as the gray, drizzly Parisian afternoon.
Borg, the No. 1 seed who had lost only eight games in nine previous sets, celebrated his 22nd birthday by whipping Roscoe Tanner, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6, in a match that was interesting only in the final set.
Dibbs, seeded No. 4, ousted Wojtek Fibak of Poland, 6-3, 7-5, 6-1, coming back from 2-5, 30-0 on Fibak's serve in the second set to win nine games in a row and 39 of 48 points.
Ramirez, seeded No. 6, preyed on the vulnerable backhand of towering Vitor Pecci of Paraguay and won, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6, despite losing his temper in an acrimonious third set.
Barazzutti, the No. 7 seed, was furious that a rain delay interfered with his plans to watch the Italy-Hungary World Cup soccer match on television, but ran through upstart Stanislav Birner of Czechoslovakia, 6-1, 6-4, 6-1, in time to catch the second half of Italy's 3-1 victory.
A couple of spats - one involving Dibbs, an umpire and a spectator, the other between Ramirez and Pecci - enlivened the afternoon somewhat. But even these weren't rousing altercations, merely petty squabbles.
In the fourth game of the Dibbs-Fibak match, Fibak broke serve back to 2-2 when a Dibbs backhand down-the-line was called wide. Dibbs didn't care for the call and went around the net to Fibak's side to look at the mark the ball had left in the damp red clay.
Umpire Jean Paul Marciel, something of a martinet, said sternly: "Don't cross the net, Dibbs. Don't cross the net."
"You keep quiet," retorted the pugnacious little Floridan, shaking his racket and pointing a finger at the official, whom he thought was riding a high horse as well as a high chair.
Before either one could say anything more, an immaculately dressed spectator sitting in the bleachers beside the outside court at Stade Roland Garros intervened. An American living in Paris and a former linesman at Forest Hills, N.Y., he scoulded Dibbs: "Don't act like that. You're an American, so act like an American." Then, as an afterthought, he added, "and you're an ugly American."
Dibbs, seldom at a loss for words, turned to the man. "Shut your mouth and go home," he suggested.
Dibbs, a semifinalist here in 1975-76, broke again for a 3-2 lead, had three break points for 5-2, and broke once again for the first set with another backhand down-the-line pass.
"Fast Eddie" was mixing up his game well, serving and volleying at times and staying back at others, playing steadily and volleying extremely well.
He romped to a 4-0 lead in the third set before Fibak broke him from 40-0, for the only one of the last 12 games he was able to win.
Ramirez was cruising along, leading, 6-2, 6-2, 4-2, 30-15, on his serve, when the 6-foot-3 Pecci suddenly turned his back on him, crouching as if to return serve but facing the back wall instead of Ramirez.
The center court crowd of 8,529 laughed, but Pecci persisted and Ramirez lost his serve, Pecci continued to niggle him by imitating the Mexican's service mannerisms, bouncing the ball eight or nine times before serving.
"I really think he just got frustrated because I was beating him so easily. He didn't know what he could do to beat me, so he started trying to bother me," said Ramirez, who will play Borg in the quarterfinals.
"I couldn't figure out what he was trying to do when he turned around on my serve. I didn't know what he meant by that gesture. But I guess he saw it made me mad, so then he started mimicking me.
"I told him after that match, 'If I was bothering you in any way, why didn't you tell me about it?" I bounce the ball a lot before serving, I take my time, but I don't do anything intentionally to disturb my opponent. If he said, 'You're bothering me by bouncing the ball so much,' I would stop. But he started mimicking me and I got really mad."
Pecci also started coming to the net, where Ramirez had controlled the match with his quick, agile volleying, and this change of tactics surprised Ramirez.
In the tie breaker, Ramirez led, 5-2, but Pecci, charging the net again, got back to 5-5 and fought off match points at 5-6 on his own serve and at 6-7 on Ramirez, running around a first serve and clubbing a forehand return winner on the latter.
Ramirez got to match point again at 8-7 and had the last laugh, thought, nailing a hard second serve for a clean forehand return winner of his own. "I love to end a match with a shot like that," Ramirez said. "Especially a match like this one."