Just when it looked as if the French Open was going through a routine day -- a couple of upsets, Yannick Noah's daily scare and a Swede beating a Swede -- an alarm clock woke everybody up, causing an evacuation of 4,000 fans and a one-hour stop in play on one court.
The battery-powered clock had been carried in to Roland Garros Stadium by an unidentified spectator today. Like many fans who come to Paris for a day or two to see the tournament, the man dropped his luggage off in the room provided by tournament officials for storage near court No. 1. Although the bag, like all others, was checked for security purposes, officials became concerned later because they heard a beeping sound.
Security called the Federation de Tennis Francaise and asked what to do. The word came back quickly: evacuate. And so Guillermo Vilas and Jan Gunnarsson, who had reached 7-6, 1-1 with Vilas leading, were asked to leave and return to the locker room. About 4,000 spectators were also asked to leave the match without explanation, although play continued elsewhere in the complex.
"Everyone cooperated completely," tournament director Patricio Clerc said. "It only took a few minutes to clear the court. There were no problems."
Once Vilas and Gunnarsson reached the locker room, they were told why they had been asked to leave. They waited for 45 minutes while officials carefully checked the beeping bag. Just as Vilas and Gunnarsson were about to ask for another court, word came back that the beeping was caused not by a bomb but an alarm clock.
After the players and spectators returned to Court 1 shortly after 7 p.m., Vilas finished up a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-3 victory.
It was the third delay today; play was twice interrupted by rain.
The most impressive victory of the day belonged to 14-year-old Mary-Joe Fernandez, who routed Britain's Ann Hobbs, 6-2, 6-0, to reach the round of 16. "She's 14?" Hobbs asked, shocked. "She sure doesn't act it or play like it."
Fernandez, who turned professional in February and is ranked No. 50, was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Miami when she was six months old.
The youngest woman to win the French Open was Britain's Christine Truman, who did so in 1959 at the age of 18 years and four months. Kathy Rinaldi, who also reached the round of 16 today, was 14 years and 91 days when she became the youngest quarterfinalist in French history in 1981. Fernandez is 14 years, 9 months and 11 days.
"I played pretty well today, and if you win it's always fun," Fernandez said. "I didn't think I would get this far. It's all overwhelming, but I enjoy it."
Tenth seed Zina Garrison enjoyed nothing today. She was on the court at 11 a.m. and out of the tournament by noon. Garrison sprayed ground strokes all over the stadium court and was beaten, 6-2, 6-2, by Laura Garrone, an 18-year-old Italian.
"I was just happy to have won two rounds," Garrone said. "I thought I might have a small chance against her, but not that much. Then when she started missing all her shots, I thought, 'I can win.' "
"I kept thinking I could make an adjustment," Garrison said. " . . . She didn't really hurt me with anything; it just got away. I'm not sure what happened."
The same could be said of Anders Jarryd.
Ulf Stenlund, a 19-year-old playing in the main draw of a Grand Prix tournament for the first time, destroyed Jarryd, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. It was difficult to tell who was more shocked, Stenlund or Jarryd.
"When I came here, I was hoping to win some games. I wasn't worried about winning matches," Stenlund said. "After I won my first match, I was so happy I couldn't even feel my legs. Today, when we started playing, I saw he was nervous. That helped give me confidence."
"I wasn't nervous," responded Jarryd. "I just have no spirit anymore. I cannot push myself to win. I don't know why. After I lost the first set today, I had no guts at all. I can't make myself work or fight. It's as if I don't want to win."
Stenlund did and he now is in the round of 16, where he will face ninth-seeded Andres Gomez, who got by yet another Swede, Kent Carlsson, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-3.
Others reaching the round of 16 included No. 1 seed Ivan Lendl, who cruised to his third straight-set win, this one over Christian Miniussi; Noah (4) who got down a set and a service break to plodding Fernando Luna before reviving to win; and No. 12 Vilas. Advancing on the women's side were No. 1 Martina Navratilova, No. 4 Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, No. 6 Helena Sukova, No. 7 Rinaldi and No. 12 Catarina Lindqvist.
The most entertaining match of the day was played way out on court No. 11 between Johan (The American Hope) Kriek and Brazilian Luiz Mattar. Kriek has joked all week about being here just so his wife can do some shopping. But all that was forgotten during a lengthy, bitter match.
Kriek had won the first two sets, Mattar the next two. During the fourth game of the last set, with Kriek leading, 2-1, Mattar began arguing with chair umpire Jean-Philippe Merlet, something he had done often. Kriek, who had complained often to Merlet for not enforcing the 30-second rule between points, joined the argument at the net. Mattar began pointing with his racket. Kriek grabbed it, and words were exchanged.
"I'm not going to tell you what I said to him or what he said to me," Kriek said. "But it wasn't pleasant. Enough was enough . . . this guy was a complete jerk. I just went up there to see what he wanted to do. He didn't do anything, we kept playing."
And Kriek played better, winning, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3.
Kriek has avoided this tournament for seven years, but Sunday he will be playing on center court and he might even have an outside chance to beat Noah. Noah reportedly injured his left heel when a trunk he was carrying eight days ago was dropped on his foot. Many who have seen the heel, including Boris Becker's manager, Ian Tiriac, do not think Noah should be playing. But an entire nation is watching, so Noah struggles on.