A good doubles team must have the quickness, the reflexes, the timing of a good comedy team: Bob and Ray in short pants.
For John McEnroe and Peter Fleming, the lines and the one-liners came easily today. "They complement each other very well," said Hans Olsson, the Swedish captain, after McEnroe and Fleming cut up Anders Jarryd and Hans Simonsson, 6-4, 6-3, 6-0, to give the United States a 2-1 lead in the quarterfinals of Davis Cup play.
Fleming nodded his punk rock hairdo in agreement, glanced at his partner, and said, "John, you played very well today."
Indeed. Jarryd, who lost to McEnroe in singles Friday night, must beat Eliot Teltscher in Sunday's first match "or else Mats Wilander and McEnroe will be a glorified exhibition," said U.S. Captain Arthur Ashe. Wilander defeated Teltscher, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, in a three-hour 55-minute match Friday night.
Jarryd said the match against McEnroe Friday did not affect his doubles performance. "I was not tired," he said. "They were too good for us. There was nothing I could do."
Which is how McEnroe and Fleming felt just a week ago, when they lost the Wimbledon doubles championship to Peter McNamara and Paul McNamee of Australia, 6-3, 6-2. What did you do to prepare for this after Wimbledon, they were asked? "Went to a lot of parties," said Fleming, who is getting married in Leeds, England, next Sunday.
McEnroe, his best man, grimaced: "We all get to go back to England."
"You do that just to torture him?" someone asked.
"He deserves a little torture in return, don't you think?" Fleming said.
Only the Swedes were tortured today. Neither McEnroe nor Fleming lost his serve; neither has ever lost a doubles match in Davis Cup play (McEnroe is 8-0, Fleming 7-0). McEnroe never faced a break point, and gave up only eight points on his serve. Fleming gave up only 11 points on his serve, had 12 service winners and three aces.
"A couple of years ago, we were more intensely into it," McEnroe said. "We've had periods where we've gone into outer space a lot . . . We've gone through periods where we have won tournaments and haven't played that well . . . Once we get going, the way we should be playing, people should have to play really well to beat us."
And, in McEnroe's opinion, the Swedes did not. In the first two sets, the difference was Simonsson's serve, which McEnroe said was "unbelievable bad." He lost his serve at 5-4 in the first set to lose it, and at 2-1 in the second to fall behind for good.
In the third set, Jarryd's serve was the culprit. They broke him in the first game when he missed four first serves. He had a game point but the score went to deuce for the second time, when McEnroe, whose forehand returns were absolutely menacing, got lucky with one that hit the net cord and went over.
Fleming returned a second serve with a forehand that seemed to ricochet off his racket and landed at Jarryd's feet, giving the Americans the advantage. McEnroe won the game with a deep forehand return into the corner that Jarryd hit long.
The difference between the No. 1-ranked Americans, who have played together for five years, and the Swedes, who have played together for two, were becoming obvious. "I had hoped to have a little chance to win," Olsson said, "but to be realistic, it was a very, very little chance."
The closest the Americans got to trouble was in the fifth game of the second set, just after they had broken to go ahead, 3-1. Fleming's first serve went awry (he missed four of them in the game) and he double-faulted twice, to fall behind, 15-40. But he bailed himself out with two service winners and some deft volleying by McEnroe.
Again, in the last set, Fleming's first serve abandoned him and he found himself behind 0-40 while serving for the match. This time he saved three break points. Simonsson netted an easy backhand volley and then a second serve to make it 30-40. Jarryd returned a good second serve to his forehand long and it was deuce.
A service winner to Simonsson's backhand made it match point. But Fleming missed a volley just long and he had to give an encore. Again, Simonsson netted a spinning second serve, and again it was match point.
Fleming sent an ace down the middle. It went by the Swedes like a joke that went over their heads.