Boris Becker made his center court debut at the U.S. Open today and quickly won the American crowd the way he won the British on his way to winning Wimbledon.
Even on the hardcourt DecoTurf II surface, Becker took several of his customary dives and tumbles in a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Australian Peter Doohan.
Becker's most impressive dive came with the match still in doubt. At 4-all in the first set, Doohan had a break point and hit a forehand that looked to be past Becker. The reckless teen-ager dove backward and just got a backhand volley crosscourt for a winner. Even his manager, Ion Tiriac, threw his head back and laughed in wonder at that one.
Otherwise, Becker's most dangerous moments came when he had to press through the screeching teen-age girls to the safety of the locker room.
Seeded eighth, Becker could play John McEnroe in the quarterfinals. "I would look forward to it," Becker said. "But I have to win my matches before then . . . "
McEnroe, after barely surviving his first-round match against Shlomo Glickstein, admitted he is looking forward to playing Becker. "I know everyone's talking about it," McEnroe said. "I look forward to it, too."
The one seeded player other than McEnroe who had serious problems was Carling Bassett, No. 15 among the women. Bassett twice had to come from a break down before beating left-handed Iva Budarova, 6-0, 6-7 (3-7), 7-5.
Bassett, a semifinalist here last year, lost to Rene Uys at Wimbledon after winning the first set, 6-0, and losing a second-set tie breaker. But she said no thoughts of de'ja -vu ran through her head. "I just had to get into rallies, take some pace off the ball and hang in."
She did just that, breaking Budarova at love with four winners when Budarova served for the match at 5-4. For Bassett, who has struggled this summer, it was a good, gritty victory.
Mary Jo Fernandez, who at 14 years one month eclipsed Gabriela Sabatini as the youngest player to win a U.S. Open match (6-1, 6-4 over Sara Gomer); Grace Kim, No. 90 in the women's world ranking, a 6-4, 6-4 conqueror of No. 20, Bettina Bunge; Bud Schultz, the rapidly improving New Englander, who easily beat Mike Leach, No. 33 on the men's computer, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-2; and Dan Goldie, the Stanford junior from McLean, Va., who beat Marty Davis in four sets.