The two first-round matches of the E.F. Hutton Masters Tennis Challenge last night were far different stylistically. But the results basically were the same. The Australian stars of the Masters circuit defeated the local talent.
Roy Emerson beat Gene Russo, 7-5, 7-5, and Fred Stolle topped Graham Stillwell, 6-1, 6-4, to advance to tonight's semifinal round, which begins at 7 at George Washington University's Smith Center. Emerson will play Ken Rosewall and Stolle will face Rod Laver.
The Russo-Emerson match featured serve and volley and few long rallies. The last game of the second set was a capsule of the match: Russo got close but not quite over the hump.
Up one set and serving at 6-5, Emerson had a foot fault (there were seven called in the match), an ace and two service winners to go ahead, 40-0. Russo countered with two excellent returns of serve and a forehand passing shot to get to deuce. A backhand cross-court volley brought Emerson to match point again. This time, Russo netted a backhand.
Russo, the tennis director at Fairfax Racquet Club, had a reason for his serve-and-volley approach. "During the ground-stroke rallies, he (Emerson) never missed a ball. No, I take that back. I think he missed once," Russo said.
Emerson was down a break in the first set and trailed, 5-2. He broke back to 5-4, then served to tie. But after a double fault, Russo had a 40-0 advantage.
Two unforced errors by Russo helped Emerson take the advantage and he finished off the game with a service winner. Russo was ahead, 40-15, in the next game but missed two forehands. After an overhead winner by Emerson, Russo double faulted on break point and Emerson led, 6-5. Russo had a chance to break back but sailed three backhands long, giving Emerson the first set.
"He (Russo) was serving pretty well. He had a break in the first set and had a few chances later on," Emerson said, while icing his right ankle with a cold beer bottle wrapped in a towel. "In all, I thought it was a good match."
Stolle and Stillwell waged more of a base-line struggle -- one reason being that Stillwell does not have an overpowering serve. Stolle took advantage of that, controlling the rallies until he had the right opening as he raced to a 5-0 lead. Stillwell, once ranked in the top 10 in the world, and now tennis director at Skyline Racquet Club, finally held serve to reach 5-1, but Stolle closed out the set with an ace and a backhand winner.
In the second set, Stillwell went to the net more, with some success. But he faltered somewhat while serving at 4-4. Stolle moved Stillwell from side to side, then came to the net for two straight easy winners. Stillwell netted a forehand passing shot to give Stolle the break. At 15-all in the last game, Stolle sandwiched winners around an ace to complete the victory.