John McEnroe had a severe case of the "Poor little old me" syndrome after winning his second-round match at Wimbledon today with a perfectly well-mannered but completely emotionless and uninspired performance.
The No. 2 seed at these championships should have been deliriously happy. If McEnroe stopped living entirely inside himself and looked around him, he would understand his good fortune. If ever a man should waltz to the Wimbledon final, it is McEnroe now.
The shocking upsets of the week continued this dark, dreary afternoon and, once again, the most dramatic was in McEnroe's portion of the draw. This time, it was Roscoe Tanner, the man with the 155-mile-per-hour left-handed serve, who was unended by Brazil's Carlos Kirmayr, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Tanner joins Ivan Lendl, Guillermo Vilas, Victor Pecci and Yannick Noah as quality seeds who have fallen on the lower half of the board, leaving only Balazs Taroczy -- that's right, Balazs Taroczy -- as a top 16 player in McEnroe's path before he reaches the final.
McEnroe whimpered this afternoon, following his sloppy 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 victory over Raul Ramirez, that he had to battle all of Britain to get to the Final Saturday. The truth is, he'll probably only have to beat clay-courter Taroczy in the round of 16 before meeting mystery men in the quarters and semis.
The demise of the eighth-seeded Tanner -- a man so suited to Wimbledon that he has been a finalist once and a semifinalist twice -- was merely the largest seismic tremor registered on a day No. 6 seed Brian Teacher and No. 7 Brian Gottfried were also blind-sided in the second round. John Lloyd, who created a stir with an opening-round victory earlier this week, lost to Jose-Luis Clerc, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-4.
Neither of those results was a complete surprise; seedings should not be taken too seriously here because they reflect all-court abilities, not skill on fickle grass. Teacher, for instance, lost for the fourth time in his last five meetings with Vijay Amritraj, the stylish Indian from Madras who loves to attack (6-4, 2-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1).
The mild Gottfried, who was a semifinalist here last year but seems to specialize in being overlooked, was beaten, 6-4, 7-6, 6-4, by the eccentric, always dangerous Jeff Borowiak. Gottfried seemed taken aback by the unorthodox, tactics of the 31-year-old Borowiak, who frequently takes it in his head to play serve-and-volley on his opponent's serve, plowing his way to the net behind his return of serve.
What could Gottfried expect from the inconsistent native of Berkeley, Calif., who entertains his fellow pros by playing classical piano?
While the number of men's seeds remaining dwindled to eight, play in the ladies championship" was distinguished by enough British patriotic emotion to saturate the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
Sue Barker had the No. 3 court in an uproar with her upset of No. 13 seed Bettina Bunge of Coral Gables, Fla., 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.
On a day when three more men (Peter Fleming, Mark Edmonson and Fritz Buehning) were assessed penalty points by the ludicrously strict and rabbit-eared officials here, the most flagrant violation of decorum came from Bunge. Faced with three match points after butchering a volley, she smashed a ball over the 40-foot-high grandstand and perilously close to play in progress on court No. 2.
Had it been McEnroe, there might have been a hanging.
The day's most sentiment-drenched match, however, was Anne Hobbs' victory over Virginia Wade, 6-1, 7-6, in what will in all probability be the 20th and last appearance by the queenly Wade in the Wimbledon singles.
In defeat, Wade made what amounted to a valedictory speech, saying if she reappears at Wimbledon it will be to play "for fun," although "we all try to resurrect ourselves as often as we can."
Wade took out a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. "Note, please," she said, "That I am not weeping.I just have a cold. I am wiping my nose, not my eyes. What the hell, I don't consider this a particularly sad day."
Wade's chilly grace was in sharp contrast to the combination of genuine confused depression and self-pity that forced the normally cocky McEnroe to talk barely above a whisper.
"I'm not encouraged by anything that's happened here. Neither of my two matches has been myself. That's really sad," said McEnroe, meaning he was too volatile in one, too placid in the other. "I've got to find a middle ground, but I haven't. I'm not going to follow anything up here (get mad again).
"It really bothered me that I was threatened with that $10,000 fine and suspension," added McEnroe. "That's so preposterous. That's just Wimbledon trying to show their force."
Apparently, it has succeeded, temporarily, in buffaloing McEnroe.
Wimbledon shows its force in many ways. Those who subdue her once are frequently laid low in their turn. For instance, the first-round stars of the first day were Eriv Fromm and Charlie Fancutt, who beat Noah and Lendl, respectively. Both disappeared gamely this afternoon in four sets, Fancutt losing to NCAA singles champion Tim Mayotte, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-3, and Fromm losing to Francisco Gonzalez, 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3.
Also, Kathy Rinaldi, the 14-year-old heroine, returned to reality, losing to Claudia Pasquale, 3-6, 6-0, 6-0. Rinaldi, who said, "I've gone off completely like that a few times before," also got another sampling of fame. Pasquale immediately termed the win "the greatest of my career. . . After all, Kathy's a star now."
However, the quintessential Wimbledon match this afternoon may have been Tanner's upset. It demonstrated aptly this tournament's idiosyncrasies and its cruel, diliberately built-in unfairnesses.
Perhaps no one in London knew that Kirmayr, who beat McEnroe last month, was a threat to Tanner: that is, except Tanner.
"He was the perfect kind of player on the perfect type of court to give me a hard time," lamented Tanner. "That (No. 5) is the softest court here and it makes his short, soft spin serves and his angled volleys even tougher because the ball won't bounce up for you.
"The cold air made it worse. Then I reaggravated an ankle injury at the end of the third set, and, of course, he saw it and started to dink-and-lob me even more to run me."
Tanner shook his head in misery: he had looked at the draw sheet. He knew a gift horse when he saw one.