Robert Green Sr. sat at courtside, biting his nails and taking pictures. Some moments must be recorded for posterity. Who knows if or when they will come around again?
"I hope he doesn't lose his glass slipper at the end of the day," Green's father said to his new friend, John McEnroe Sr.
They both smiled. They know that every fairy tale has an ending. For Robert Green Jr. in the U.S. Open, it ended on a gray, uncivil day at the hands of John McEnroe Jr., 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
For John Lloyd, the fairy tale continues. His wife, Chris Evert Lloyd, sat at courtside chewing gum as vehemently as Bob Green's father chewed his nails, watching Lloyd defeat ninth-seeded Henrik Sundstrom, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Lloyd is the first British player to reach the quarterfinals since Mark Cox in the 1966 U.S. championships. Lloyd has not reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event since he was a finalist in the Australian Open in 1977.
Lloyd will play the defending champion, Jimmy Connors, who defeated Joakim Nystrom, the 16th seed, tonight, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0, 6-3. When Lloyd lost to Connors here in the first round, 6-0, 6-0, 6-2, in 1981, it was the lowest point of his career. Now, he once again is aspiring to the heights of his potential, having eliminated two seeded players in a row.
Lloyd's match began two hours late and was delayed twice, for a total of 4 hours 43 minutes. "It was one of those days that seem to go on forever," said Lloyd. "It was the longest day of my life."
The first time the rain lasted 32 minutes. When it ended, Lloyd served at 4-5 and was broken to end the first set. He had been tentative until then, waiting for Sundstrom to make mistakes, searching for opportunities to come in but not able to take advantage of them.
The air was damp and and the balls slow, all of which worked to the base-liner's advantage. During the break, Lloyd said, "I talked to Bob (Brett, his coach) and Chris and they said, 'Play your game. You're basically waiting for him to make mistakes.' Even though I lost the next game, I went out there with a purpose."
Lloyd was leading, two sets to one, with his opponent ahead, 1-0, when the rains came again. This delay lasted 3 hours 12 minutes. But Lloyd was not deterred. "I felt it was there for the taking," he said. I don't mean any disrespect to Henrik, but I didn't think he was capable of hurting me. I went and grabbed it."
Green never felt that way. "I mean waiting in the locker room to come out, you feel a little bit like Gary Gilmore (a convicted murderer eventually executed)," Green said. "You're just waiting for someone to come get you."
A year ago, Green lost in the last round of the U.S. Open qualifying tournament. This year, he not only qualified but also beat three established players in the main draw: Tim Wilkison, 11th-seeded Juan Aguilera and John Fitzgerald. His reward was to face McEnroe.
"I do not think this is the last you will hear from a guy like him," McEnroe said when it was over.
A year ago, McEnroe lost in the fourth round to Bill Scanlon. This year, he was supposed to have the toughest draw of the top seeds. Instead, he got through the first three rounds losing only 12 games in nine sets. He beat Kevin Moir, a qualifier, in the third round to face Green today. McEnroe will play Gene Mayer in the quarterfinals. Mayer upset Tomas Smid, the 13th seed, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, today. Mats Wilander, the fourth seed, defeated Tim Mayotte, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), in another rain-delayed match begun Monday night.
For a while, it seemed none of the matches would be played today. The two-hour prematch delay was hardly what Green needed to calm his quaking nerves. "He didn't want to talk," his father said. "He just wanted to think about how he got here."
His coach, Benny Sims, brought Pancho Segura to help lighten the mood. It didn't help. Green double-faulted twice in the first game he served and was broken.
"All I basically wanted to do was try to get in the match and hold serve as best I could," Green said. "And if I lost the first set (by) one break or in the tie breaker, then fine. I just wanted to establish that I could hold serve against him -- which the first game I served I didn't exactly do."
He managed to break back and even the set at 2-2. But he wasn't deluding himself. "Basically a free break," he said, his only one of the match.
Awe does strange things to reflexes. "That might be partly what caused my slowness of foot," Green said. "You know, hitting a passing shot and then standing around seeing what he's going to do."
In the players' box, Sims rooted for Green and marveled at McEnroe. He made 73 percent of his first serves and kept Green off balance all day. "He's like a great pitcher, like Koufax, he disguises it so well," Sims said. "This guy is magic. It's like a clinic to watch him. An efficiency expert should do a study on him."
"I mean," Green said, "if you're out there on the court watching him hit, he does things so effortlessly. I mean he's not (Ivan) Lendl sitting back there and booming every ball. He just sort of strokes the ball real nice and it makes you a little more comfortable. But then later on you relize how easy it is for him and wish you could play like that."
McEnroe didn't know much about Green and neither did anyone else. He is 24 and ranked 132nd. His highest ranking in juniors was 50th in the 18s and under.
McEnroe had never seen him play. All he knew was that a friend of his brother had beaten Green once. "I was aware he had a big serve and attacked a lot and tried to adjust mentally to that before I went out there," McEnroe said. "I also thought he would be vulnerable to the lob because he stood real close to the net. I tried to exploit that."
Green was down a set and tied at 2-2 when the rains came and caused the 32-minute interruption. McEnroe came back even stronger. There had been no chance to get loose before the match. Now he was warm. He won 14 straight points after they resumed play.
"I'd like to say I got a little bit cold or something but I don't think that happened," Green said.
Two years ago, Green graduated from Boston University with a degree in Russian language and literature. Someone asked whether his education had prepared him for this.
"It just prepares you for the depression afterwards," he said.