For a brief moment today, France held its collective breath. Because, beneath a peek-a-boo sun on the center court of Roland Garros, Libor Pimek threatened to turn a cool afternoon into an inescapable cauldron for Yannick Noah.
For one set, Pimek, a 6-5, 172-pound, 21-year-old Czechoslovakian, appeared capable of upsetting ninth-seeded Noah, even with 16,000 of Noah's countrymen roaring for him.
"I was just glad to win," Noah said. After better than three hours, he escaped with a 6-7 (7-4) 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 victory in a match filled with wonderful shotmaking, strange calls and verbal disputes between the players. "I expected a tough match and that's what it was."
But, Noah won, as did the top three men's seeds -- John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors -- each in straight sets. Of the omnipresent Swedes, No. 6 Anders Jarryd, No. 9 Joakim Nystrom and No. 14 Stefan Edberg advanced today.
Among the women, Chris Evert Lloyd made her debut and needed only 55 minutes to beat teen-ager Jeanine Thompson, 6-2, 6-1. That was two minutes more than Martina Navratilova took to beat Virginia Wade, 6-3, 6-0, in a second-round match.
The only seed to lose was No. 16 Jimmy Arias. He was routed by Roberto Saad, a 23-year-old Argentine.
Saad did just what you aren't supposed to do on a clay court -- serve and volley -- and destroyed Arias, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.
Aaron Krickstein struggled to defeat Spain's Fernando Luna, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, while Vitas Gerulaitis ran into Boris Becker, a 17-year-old West German, who is improving almost daily, and was thrashed, 6-3, 6-7 (7-4), 6-1, 6-1.
Connors, after a sloppy start, made fairly short work of Wolfgang Popp, winning, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. Lendl made even shorter work of Eddie Edwards. 6-1, 6-3, 6-4. And McEnroe, playing on the center court in the gathering dusk of early evening, looked sharp in beating Haitian Ronald Agenor, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.