When Brian Gottfried takes the court at Rock Creek Stadium against Angel Giminez this afternoon to defend his Washington Star International Tennis championship, he won't be among the top five seeds.
Gottfried is seeded ninth for good reason. Ahead of him are No. 1 Ivan Lendl, ranked fourth in the world; second-seeded Gene Mayer, No. 5 in the world; Jose-Luis Clerc, seeded third and sixth in the world; Guillermo Vilas, who has won this tournament three times and is No. 7 in the world; Harold Solomon, Victor Pecci, Elliot Teltscher and Yannick Noah.
A number of the seeded players finished tournaments elsewhere yesterday and won't play their first-round matches until Tuesday. But the fifth-seeded Solomon from Silver Spring will play old clay-court veteran Jaime Fillol at 8:30 p.m. on the stadium court in what could be an entertaining match.
Eric van Dillen and Rick Meyer will open play on the stadium court at noon at the facility at 16th and Kennedy streets. Mayor, known for his two-fisted forehand, plays Stanislav Birner on the stadium court at approximately 2 p.m., and following that match will be Gottfried-Giminez. Eddie Dibbs, seeded 10th, will play Steve Krulevitz on court A-2 at 7:30 p.m.
The week-long tournament, played on clay, will be a survival test. Each year the contestants have to endure to 120-degree temperatures. One day's rainout can force a player into two matches in less than 24 hours.
Rather than deal with that, many of the world's top players skip the $200,000 event either to rest or to play in tournaments in a cooler climate. Jimmy Connors is not in this year's field of 64. Nor are John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg.
But the players assembled in this tourney are among the best clay courters in the world. Connors lost to unseeded Pascal Portes in an early round last year. Lendl has beaten McEnroe and Borg recently on clay.
However, Borg did defeat Lendl, 1-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4, yesterday in the final of a Grand Prix tournament in Stuttgart, Germany. Lendl will have a very tough first-round opponent in Corrado Barazzutti of Italy. Both halves of the draw seem fairly even and no player seems to have a distinct advantage at this point.
The two players who advance to the final round will be pleased that the championship match will be played at night, 7:30 on Monday, July 27. TODAY'S SCHEDULE First Round Stadium Court Noon
Erik Van Dillen vs. Ricky Meyer; Gene Mayer vs. Stanislav Birner; Brian Gottfried vs. Angel Griminez Court A-2 Noon
Ricardo Ycaza vs. Marcos Hocevar; Pascal Portes vs. Zan Guerry Court A-4 1 p.m.
John Hayes vs. Pedro Reboiledo; Diego Perez vs. Marcell Freeman Court B-2 1 p.m.
Christopher Freyss vs. Craig Wittus; Nick Saviano vs. Gilles Moretton Court B-4 1 p.m.
Edurdo Bengoechea vs. Gernanado DallaFontana; Fernando Maynetto vs. Ben Testerman Stadium Court 7 p.m.
Grand Masters singles final; Jaime Filloi vs. Harold Solomon Court A-2 7:30 p.m.
Steve Krulevitz vs. Eddie Dibbs; Grand Masters doubles final Court A-4 8 p.m.
Terry Moor vs. Ron Hightower; Jose Higueras vs. Deon Jonbert