Most of the best volleys and smashes were off the court today at Wimbledon as play reached the quarterfinals and griping reached its zenith.
Only one favored player was upset this afternoon -- Andrea Jaeger, who was beaten 6-4, 7-6, by Yugoslavia's Mima Jausovec -- on a day when almost all of tennis' true galmor names reached the pestigious round of of eight.
The real upset came after the matches when a battery of star American players, led by outspoken Jimmy Connors, laid the wood to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, blasting Wimbledon for overly strict officiating an scheduling deliberately biased in favor of Bjorn Borg.
After the grass had settled this afternoon, the quarterfinal pairings for next week read thus:
Men -- Borg versus Peter McNamara and Connors versus Vijay Amritrai in the top half of the draw and Rod Frawley versus Tim Mayotte and John McEnroe versus John Kriek in the bottom.
Women -- Chris Evert Llyod versus Jausovec and Tracy Austin versus Pam Shriver on top and Martina Navratilova versus Virginia Ruzici and Hana Mandlkova versus Wendy Turnbull on bottom.
Those results, with the top three seeded men intact and seven of the top eight seeded women still alive, were more predictable than the complaints of Connors, Evert, Navratilova and McEnroe and a pair of disgruntled Australians, Frawley and John Fitzergerald.
"It's just lovely out there in the 'field,'" said Connors sarcastically after winning his second consecutive match on an erratic outside court. "It's so nice out there . . .
"Seriously," said Connors, Wimbledon champion in 1974, "it's not fair that year after year, Borg plays all his matches on Centre Court and court No. 1.
"If you're going to win the tournament, you should be out in the field at least once during the fortnight. Over the years, I've won out there. McEnroe has won out there, and lost out there. But how long has it been since Borg took his chances on one of the upset courts?"
Borg has played 30 consecutive Wimbledon matches on the two large stadium courts -- where crowds are vastly bigger and the grass surface is far better and more consistent. He hasn't been in the outer field, where wind and poor grass conditions tend to equalize the ability of players, since his second-round match with Mark Edmondson in 1977.
"They're doing everything they can to get Borg and McEnroe into the finals," said Connors, who beat Wojtek Fibak, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. "There's a lot of questions being asked by people in general, not just tennis people.
"They say that Borg always plays inside because he's such a big draw and because of security (crowd control). I don't think that's a legitimate argument. When Chris (Evert) or John (McEnroe) or I have played out there in the last couple of years, it's been a mob with pushing and shoving and talking."
I don't think it's fair that Borg is the only player, either man or woman, who always plays Centre and No. 1," said Evert, who beat Claudia Pasquale, 6-0, 6-0. "He knows those courts like the back of his hand and some of the players who come in to play him there have never been on the court or played before that big crowd."
"The court allocation has not been very satisfactory," concurred Navratilova, who beat Betsy Nagelsen, 6-3, 6-1. "It is a great advantage if you never have to play outside Centre Court or No. 1."
For sure, it helps, that's true," shrugged the candid Borg after beating his practice partner, Vitas Gerulaitis, for the 20th consecutive time, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6, in a crowd-pleasing all-court match that was never in doubt. 'The bounce is better inside -- higher, the way I like it. Centre Court and No. 1 are better.
"But I am not the one who makes the schedule."
An even more universal annoyance here, which is rising toward a fury, has been the consensus among the more colorful male players that umpires and referees are deliberately trying to keep them under the thumb.
"My goodness gracious, I'm shocked that John McEnroe would say such things," spoofed Connors when the Monday diatribe by McEnroe, who beat Stan Smith handily, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, was resurrected. "But the point is that John should never have been put in that position.
The umpires here have taken the attitude toward players that, 'You're nothing. Do what I say or you're out.'
"The player is the one who needs to be considered more. We're the ones out there busting our guts for the people. Under the rules we have now (warning, two penalty points, penalty game and then default), I could have been defaulted my whole career.
"Pancho Gonzalez, Ilie Nastase, John McEnroe, myself . . . Are those the kind of players you what to put under wraps?" asked Connors, who, along with Borg, is the only gentleman to have won all four of his matches in straight sets.
"Yeah, they're cracking down here, sure" said Connors. But it's getting worse all over the world. It's not the officials' fault; they're under orders. You gotta start where the headache begins. Look higher.
"The way it is now, you'd have better tennis, and better equipment, if you let the players call the lines themselves," added Connors. "You know, honor among thieves."
Two players -- Frawley and Fitzgerald -- actually pleaded with an umpire to let them call their own game in a match won by Frawley, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6. "If you had any guts, you'd have gotten down out of that chair and let us call it ourselves," Frawley growled to the umpire at match's end. At one juncture, Fitzgerald said, "Don't serve so fast, Rod, so the bloody umpire can see the lines."
"It had a great influence on our match," said Frawley, a grass specialist who has not gotten past a second round this year, and who, like current NCAA singles champ Mayotte of Stanford, whom he meets next, has not had to face a seeded player in this Wimbledon. "It's like blackmail. That stopwatch comes out as soon as you say anything. They look at the sky, wait 30 seconds, then give a penalty point."
One of the few players who had almost nothing derogatory to say about officialdom or the system was McEnroe. He couldn't be more catatonically subdued both before and after matches if he'd been shot with an elephant tranquilizer.
I'm not serving well, missed nine of 10 first serves in one game. Can't win a tournament that way," said cheerful John, who was tested nicely for two sets by the 34-year-old Smith before the veteran simply ran out of gas on his serve.
Frankly, this was a day when 31,548 fans had precious little scintillating tennis to watch. Of 16 matches, 13 were straight-set sweeps and only Ruzici's 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Kathy Jordan went to a final match-in-the-balance set. Among the men's losers, only Smith and Francisco Gonzalex, who fell to the swift, scrambling Kriek, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-1, were able to capture a set for dignity's sake.
Even the one upset, by Jausovec over the 16-year-old Jaeger, who reached the quarters last year, was a mild disappointment -- one of those pitty-pat, will-someobody-please-hit -the-ball matches that give middle echelon tennis a soporific reputation.
"She played pretty well, for her," said the disappointed Jaeger. "I never came in (to the net) and took my chances. Sometimes, she did."
Oddly, the day's most pleasing match was also the most predictable -- Borg's practice session, so to speak, with Gertulaitis. So soon as Borg ended the 50-minute first set tie breaker with a 7-4 win, the result was academic: no jinx in tennis equals Borg's hold on Gerulaitis' mind. Many a player here wonders why Gertulaitis continues to practice with Borg year after year as his world ranking falls -- from fourth in 1979 to 25th in winnings at the moment.
Part of the reason is the stunning, intuitive rallies that the buddies put on.Both are known for their anticipation and quickness, but, against each other, they reach a magical realm of foreknowledge and gambling that creates one impossible exchange after another.
"I think I play the big points well," said Borg after his 39th straight victory here. "And when I play Vitas, I always win those points." Borg does that against everyone here. But some would like to see him do it out in the fields.