Bjorn Borg won his 32nd consecutive singles match to establish a Wimbledon record, Wojtek Fibak came from two sets down to upset Vitas Gerulaitis and Chris Evert Lloyd took 15-year-old Andrea Jaeger to school today on another miserable, umbrella-and-overcoat day at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
The worst Wimbledon weather in 22 years continued, as rain delayed the start of play in the world's premier tennis championships for nearly three hours, forced the overnight suspension of two important singles matches.
Defending champion Martina Navratilova had just won the first set of her quarterfinal match against Billie Jean King in a dramatic tie breaker when drizzle turned to downpour, forcing the players to sprint off the dark and gloomy Centre Court shortly after 8 p.m.
As King struggled vainly to keep the rain off the lenses of her glasses, Navratilova came back from 1-5 down in the tie breaker, turned it around with two spectacular service return winners and won it, 8 points to 6.
Meanwhile, out on the soft, bumpy and treacherous turf of court No. 2, Jimmy Connors was leading Californian Hank Pfister, 6-4, 5-5, in their fourth-round match when the last rains came.
Connors led, 4-1, in the second set, but lost his advantage in the gathering mist and darkness and will have to resume Wednesday on a court notorious for its bad bounces and upsets.
Today's rain threw the already chaotic schedule into further disarray, because Navratilova-King and Connors-Pfister are now a round behind the other players still alive in singles.
Borg, Fibak, John McEnroe and Peter Fleming reached the quarterfinals today. They joined Roscoe Tanner, Gene Mayer, and Brian Gottfried, who achieved that plateau Monday.
Borg is to play Mayer on Centre Court, Fibak is to play Gottfried and McEnroe will face his doubles partner Fleming on court No. 1 Wednesday. Tanner will oppose the Connors-Pfister winner Thursday.
Tracy Austin will play 1971 champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley in one women's semifinal Wednesday and Evert will play the Navratilova-King winner in the other Thursday. All this, of course, weather permitting.
The women's singles final still is scheduled for Friday and the men's final for Saturday. Thus, in order for Navratilova, King, Connors or Pfister to reach a final, they would have to play every day for the remainder of the tournament, a grind seldom required at Wimbledon.
As for the doubles, mixed doubles, junior and consolation events, who knows when or if they ever will be finished?
"A couple of those events could go donw the tubes," said McEnroe, the defending men's doubles champion with Fleming, after completing a rugged 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 singles victory over Kevin Curren, 22, a flashy but erratic South African who had played through the qualifying tournament.
McEnroe, the No. 2 seed who is regarded as the most serious threat to deny Borg a fifth successive title, said he would be willing to hang around three weeks to finish the singles. But he expressed the flat, unsettled feeling that has gripped many players following the constant stoppages of play and lack of grass court practice.
"You have to try to get 'up' to play three or four times, or stay psyched for hours," he said. "When you do get on court, it's tough to find any rhythm. You stiffen up, because it's cold as well as wet.
"I've played in worse conditions, but not in a major tournament. It was raining pretty hard at times today, and I began to wonder what I was doing out there. I guess they have to throw you out there when they can because they're getting desperate. With the rain and the wind, you never know what's going to happen. Snow could be next."
Everyone thought he was kidding, but Alan Little, the All England Club's honorary librarian, added a chilling bit of historical perspective. "I don't think we've ever had snow during the championships," he said, "but certainly there has been sleet. Things could be worse."
The raw, blustery weather has put even the long-suffering British on edge. The booth selling strawberries on the public tea lawn was closed this afternoon perhaps for fear icicles would form on the fruit that had not become moldy. Spectators who usually wait patiently and cheerfully in seemingly endless queuse were grumbling audibly. Those with the customary stiff upper lips appeared to maintain them primarily because they were frozen.
Despite the abysmal conditions for playing and watching tennis, however, it was an eventful day at Wimbledon.
Borg, who appears to be right on target in his effort to become the first man to win five successive singles titles here since Lawrie Doherty in 1902-06, hammered Balazs Taroczy of Hungary, 6-1, 7-5, 6-2, and achieved a satisfying intermediate milestone.
The impressively straightforward triumph was Borg's 32nd in a row at Wimbledon since Arthur Ashe beat him in the quarterfinals fiver years ago today, on July 1, 1975.
Borg thus eclipsed the record of 31 set by Australian Rod Laver between 1961 and 1970. (Laver won in 1961-62-68-69, but did not play in 1963 through 1967 because professionals then were ineligible.)
Fibak, who trailed No. 4 seed Gerulaitis by 3-6, 3-5 when play was suspended Monday, lost the second set but surged back for a 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 8-6 victory over a man with whom he has had a longstanding feud.
Fibak lost only eight points in his first six service games in the final set, then held from 15-40 and broke Gerulaitis for the match.
Evert, who has reached at least the semifinals in all nine of her appearances at Wimbledon, lost her serve in the first set against Jaeger. There-after she moved the youngest quarterfinalist in Wimbledon's 103 years around the court like a chess grandmaster maneuvering a pawn, and won handily, 6-1, 6-1.
Austin and Goolagong reached the semis easily. Austin outstroked Greer Stevens on Centre Court, 6-3, 6-3. Goolagong outserved, outchipped, outran and outvolleyed speedy fellow Australian Wendy Turnbull, who has never won a set in seven meetings between the two, 6-3, 6-2, on Court No. 2.
Fleming had to play only six points to complete a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 victory over Onny Parun, 33, the New Zealander who came back from four serious neck operations and played through the qualifying. Fleming led, 4-1, in the final tie breaker when rain intervened Monday, and ran it out at 7-4.
McEnroe picked up at 3-3 in the third set and finished off the tall broad-shouldered Curren ("He looks like an American footballer dressed in those funny pads," said one Englishman) in a tie breaker, 4-4. Curren served well, but McEnroe's left-handed serves were better, especially the ace that got him to match point. "I still don't think I'm playing that well, but this is the best I've served so far, so that's an improvement," McEnroe said.
Borg served and vollyed well on the soft, spongy turf of court No. 1, going to the net behind every first serve and strong approach shot because the ball was staying exceptionally low, making it difficult to play his usual topspin passing shots from the back court.
"I feel very satisified," he said of his landmark victory. "When I started to play tennis, when I was 9 years old, Layer was my idol. During that time, up until I was 15, he was winning all the big tournaments and every body was talking about Laver, that he was maybe the greatest that ever played the game. So to beat these kind of records, especially if Laver in involved, that's why it means so much for me.
"I think it's important. To me it's important anyway," the remarkable 24-year-old Swede went on, "because I always set goals for myslef. I don't think it's going to happen again, that I will win 32 matches in a row at Wimbledon, so to achieve these kind of goals I think is a great thing. I always put something in front of me, this year and next, to try and achieve some records. I put my goals in the big tournaments, and as long as I play competitive tennis I will always do that."
Perhaps the day's most closely watched match was that between No. 3 seed Evert and Jaeger, conqueror of Virginia Wade, on Court No. 1.Evert appeared nervous in the first game, then ran off seven in a row, jerking Jaeger around the court with deep, accurate ground strokes and perfect dinks and drop shots, seven of which died in the grass for winners.
"I don't think Andrea has the weapons to hurt a baseliner as much as she does a serve-volleyer," Wade has said in confidently predicting an Evert victory. She was right. Jaeger scrambled tenaciously and athletically, her legs and long blond pigtails flying as she scampered around the court, but she never had a chance.
Jaeger respects Evert above all other players: "God, I don't think she has any weaknesses," the engaging teen-ager said when asked beforehand what she might attack. But the match was played in exceptionally good spirit, enlivened with good-natured byplay between the teacher and the youngster, who was getting a lesson.
When Jaeger lost her racket leaping for an unreachable lob and it flew over the net to Evert's feet, Evert picked it up and pretended that she wouldn't give it back. When Jaeger lost her footing and skidded to the turf on numerous scrambles, Evert kidded her: "Cant't you stand on your own two feet?"
Asked if she had fun, Jaeger replied, "Yeh, it was okay. I didn't play very well. There were some bad bounces. But once in awhile, she'd throw in a one-liner that would kind of make me laugh. I guess it showed you don't have to be at each other's throat when you play a match."
Evert -- who controlled the rallies masterfully, handled the swirling wind with greater aplomb and fooled Jaeger repeatedly with the ground strokes, lobs and drops she hit with equal facility off her well-disguised forehand -- had fun too.
"I really enjoy playing her," said the champion of 1974 and '76. "I want to laugh all the time. I think she's really funny, and she's such a nice little kid, it's tough to really get intense against her."
Jaeger, who now will return to high school in Lincolnshire, Ill., to take her delayed final exams, was charming to the end. Asked if there was any point at which she realized today wouldn't be her day, she said: "Yeh, when it was 6-1, 5-1, there's not a whole lot of hope. I just started serving and volleying to see what would happen."
What happened is that she won a few points at the net, giving a glimpse of her adventuresome nature and the flexibility in her still-developing game. But it only briefly forestalled the inevitable result. Was she disappointed?
"I've done better than I expected," replied the youngest player ever seeded at Wimbledon. "I beat Wade, to to the quarterfinals, lost to someone who's won Wimbledon and is like No. 3 in the world. If you're going to be disappointed about that, what's going to happen when you lose to somebody ranked 67?