Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe won early-round matches today in their attempts to become the first American winner of the French Open tennis championships in 28 years.
Connors dispatched Paul McNamee, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, but it took McEnroe more than four hours and a good deal of bad temper to defeat Ben Testerman, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (7-6), 6-2. McEnroe, who was handed a $350 fine for his antics, blamed his poor performance on a lack of practice on the slow red clay and on an injury to his left shoulder that delayed his decision to play at Paris' Roland Garros Stadium until last week.
As usual, the crowd took delight in ridiculing the tantrums of the "uncouth American." And the hostility is mutual.
At a press conference after his match, McEnroe was asked by a French journalist why he disliked the French so much. Instead of denying the premise of the question, he replied sharply: "It would be undiplomatic of me to answer that."
McEnroe attracted barrages of whistling by his repeated questioning of linesmen's decisions and his arguments with photographers. At one point, he kicked a movie camera, apparently because he felt the photographer was making too much noise.
He was twice warned for bad behavior, including the slamming of balls wildly between games. The French umpire, Philippe Boivin, later said he had not heard the alleged obscenities shouted by McEnroe at the linesmen. Speaking in French at a news conference, he added with a grin: "At any rate, if I heard them, I did not understand what they meant."
In the day's biggest upset, Fernando Luna eliminated seventh-seeded Jose-Luis Clerc, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. Luna is ranked 59th in the world on the ATP computer, while Clerc is ranked ninth. However, the Argentinian has been struggling lately, while Luna is considered a clay court specialist.
Martina Navratilova, the defending women's champion, routed Katerina Skronska, 6-1, 6-1, in a second-round match and Chris Evert Lloyd, the No. 2 seed, beat Pat Medrado, 6-1, 6-2, in the first round. Fourth-seeded Tracy Austin scored the most one-sided win of the day, 6-0, 6-1, over Dana Gilbert.