Let the other players complain about the heat, the rain and the unpredictability of the Washington Star International tennis tournament. Pascal Portes loves it here.
Portes, a rapidly improving 22-year-old from France, is making a name for himself by upsetting highseeded, big-name opponents on center court. Yesterday, Portes put aside an embarrassing first-set loss and eliminated Harold Solomon, the No. 5 seed and a local favorite, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, at Rock Creek Stadium. Portes' second-round victory came nearly one year to the day after he upset top-seeded Jimmy Connors on the same clay court.
Meanwhile, on a side court, Victor Pecci, the No. 6 seed and a finalist here in 1979, lost his second-round match, 7-5, 6-1, to Uruguay's Diego Perez. Pecci's defeat meant that four of the top 10 seeds here were eliminated before completion of the first round last night.
But three seeded players cruised through first-round matches.
Top-ranked Ivan Lendl beat Corrado Barazzutti, 6-0, 6-2, on the stadium court in a night match that lasted only 42 minutes. Lendl, the No. 4-ranked player in the world, demolished Barazzutti with a barrage of ground strokes. The Czech won 17 of the last 21 points in the first set.
In the afternoon, three-time Star champion Guillermo Vilas, the No. 4 seed, defeated Ferdi Taygan, 6-0, 6-0, on the stadium court. And third-seeded Jose-Luis Clerc ousted John Yuill, 6-4, 6-4.
Asked why so many seeded players had been upset, Solomon replied, "There are a lot of good players, that's all. If you aren't playing 100 percent, it's not that hard to lose."
Solomon was 100 percent in the first set, blasting Portes from side to side with his precision ground strokes.
"Then, all of a sudden," Solomon said, "I just stopped hitting. I don't know why. Halfway through the match, I just fell asleep.I looked up and Portes was winning. It was crazy."
The turning point in the match came in the first game of the second set. Solomon had build a 40-love lead on his serve but Portes, who has had a back problem, decided to push himself.
Portes fought back to deuce, then broke Solomon to take a 1-0 lead int he set. "I think Solomon got mad after I came back," Portes said. "He didn't seem to be the same."
Portes held serve for a 4-1 advantage, then broke Solomon in five points as the crowd of 2,500 began exhorting Solomon to play better. Solomon broke Portes' serve to close to 5-2 but lost the match on his own serve when Portes put away a short lob on a second match point.
Portes was ranked No. 128 in the world last year when he defeated Connors, but has rise to No. 45. Connors had predicted then that Portes would become one of the better clay-court players.
The day's other seeded victim, Pecci, admitted serving poorly for much of his match with Perez and returned to serve much the same. "I served badly and he got confident in the first set," Pecci said. "It was the first time I played himand I didn't know his backhand was that good."
Trailing 5-6, 30-40, in the first set, Pecci hit a serve that Perez barely got his racket on, lobbing the ball back over the net. But the ball went so high that Pecci decided to let it bounce so he could set up for an overhead. The ball skidded off the baseline and an offbalance Pecci netted the return, ruining the best chance he had of winning the set.
Informed that Solomon had lost moments earlier, Pecci reacted, "What? Solomon lost? Whoa! I don't know why this always happens here."
Clerc, who won the U.S. Pro championship in Boston Tuesday with a victory over Hans Gildemeister, said he was surprised, on arriving here to learn that defending champion Brian Gottfried, the ninth seed, and Gene Mayer, the fourth, already had been eliminated.
Clerc, a finalist last year, is in the bottom half of the draw, where four seeded players have been ousted. The toughest opponent in Clerc's half if Eliot Teltscher, No. 7.
Vilas needed only 45 minutes to drub Taygan, from Framingham, Mass. and and for the most part seemed to be trying to make every shot dust the chalk lines.
"Taygan is a player I respect," Vilas said. "He's taken me five sets before. Maybe he was expecting me to play bad because of my flight last night from Europe."
Of the other seeded players who advanced without difficulty, No. 10 Eddie Dibbs defeated Jose Lopez-Maeso, 6-1, 6-1, in less time than Vilas had needed to dispose of Taygan; 14th-seeded Terry Moor beat Craig Wittus, 6-3, 6-2, and Teltscher eliminated Ben Testerman, 6-3, 6-1.
In late matches, Raoul Ramirez beat Jose-Luis Damiani, 6-3, 6-2, and Hans Gildemeister topped Mel Purcell, 6-3, 7-6.