It is starting to get strange at Wimbledon. This is the tennis tournament where hardly anything is predictable. Upsets are part of the daily routine and so is the rain.
So what is happening here this year? Not only has there been no sign of rain since Monday, there has been no sign of a significant upset since Tuesday when Jimmy Connors made his exit.
Today, the only seeded player to lose was No. 6 Joakim Nystrom. Ramesh Krishnan defeated him, 6-7 (8-6), 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, in a match that was delightful but hardly shocking. Nystrom is not a grass court player. He is not a big server and is much more comfortable at the base line. Krishnan is not exactly overpowering either. But the other players call him "the surgeon," because he so delicately and efficiently carves up opponents, regardless of surface.
Today, he kept floating balls just out of Nystrom's reach, chipping and chopping. "I guess neither one of us is very good at the net," he said softly, after blowing a two-service-break lead -- and four match points -- in the fourth set before finally breaking Nystrom to win. "I don't serve very well either. I guess neither one of us is really a grass court player."
Right now, it is difficult to determine who can play here and who can't. Players such as Connors and Kevin Curren are gone and people such as Eddie Edwards, Christo van Rensburg and Matt Anger are in the round of 16.
While Nystrom was being chipped to death on Centre Court by Krishnan, Ivan Lendl, perhaps the most ignored No. 1 seed in tennis history, was easily winning again, cruising past Amos Mansdorf, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. Lendl has played on Centre Court once in three rounds here and when he did, the royal box was deserted.
Because he has played three opponents given no chance to beat him -- Anger will make four -- Lendl is being asked postmatch questions about his girlfriend ("Will you pose for a picture with her?"), about John McEnroe, about Connors and today about the weather. "Anytime there is sun at Wimbledon, it is my type of weather," he said.
And so, on he goes. As does Tim Mayotte, the one player left in the upper half of the men's draw with a realistic chance of beating Lendl before the final. Today, Mayotte struggled with his serve but still got past Tomas Smid, 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. He next plays Edwards, one of two South Africans (van Rensburg is the other) in the round of 16. Then, he and Lendl should meet in the quarterfinals.
Boris Becker also is in the tournament, although the tournament committee seems to be trying to forget that. Becker did not get on the court until after 7 p.m. Thursday to start his second-round match against Tom Gullikson. He was leading, 6-4, 6-3, 2-2, when darkness forced suspension until today.
The committee scheduled Becker late, keeping him waiting until almost 7 again. But he is in strong form and quickly won four straight games to end the match. That puts him in the third round a day late. Is Becker bothered by this nonsense?
"Wimbledon is Wimbledon," he said with a shrug. "They have been here 100 years. They are not going to change for me."
The women are having a tournament here, too, although few people seem to have noticed. Today, Martina Navratilova won easily, 6-0, 6-4, against Jane Forman, who is ranked 160 places below her on the computer. "She's a pesty little thing," Navratilova said, and then spent 15 minutes answering questions about Suzanne Lenglen, whose record of five straight Wimbledon titles she can tie, Chris Evert Lloyd's game ("I haven't seen her hit a ball; well, a couple of balls.") and her volleying.
She moved to the third round along with No. 4 Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, No. 8 Manuela Maleeva, No. 10 Gabriela Sabatini and No. 15 Catarina Lindqvist. Sabatini is far more confident on the grass than she was a year ago and is coming to net behind her serve consistently. Today she easily beat Catherine Suire of France, 6-3, 6-3, hitting the ball hard and attacking the whole match. Sabatini turned 16 just last month but she is 5-9 and 130 pounds and clearly much stronger than she was a year ago.
"Last year I had hardly played on grass," Sabatini said. "This year I played at Eastbourne last week and had two weeks of grass practice before coming here. I feel much better than I used to on the grass."
Sabatini could meet Kohde-Kilsch in the fourth round and is capable of beating her.
Two players who will not meet in the fourth round are Ken Flach and Robert Seguso. The world's best-known men's doubles team had caused a stir earlier in the week by reaching the third round in singles. Seguso is ranked No. 31 in the world but had to beat Connors in the first round, so his presence in the round of 32 was a surprise. Flach's was a shock. He has had a horrible year in singles, his ranking had dropped to No. 167 before Wimbledon and he had to qualify to get into the draw.
But he beat 14th-seeded Martin Jaite in the second round and looked capable of beating Slobodan Zivojinovic today when Zivojinovic began the match by double faulting four times in the first game to lose his serve.
But after Flach won the first set, Zivojinovic, who last year beat Mats Wilander here, began wearing him down. Zivojinovic's service returns, which had been hitting the fence in the first set, began to find the court and he took command, eventually winning, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
Seguso had no more luck than his partner. He also won the first set in his match against van Rensburg, but his serve, so consistent against Connors and Brian Teacher, broke down and van Rensburg walked off with the match, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.
And so, by day's end, 350 people had fainted from the heat -- at Wimbledon? -- and tennis fans were looking forward to fourth-round matchups such as van Rensburg-Zivojinovic and Eric Jelen-Krishnan. One of those four players will be a semifinalist. Think about that.
At least the first three are grass court players. Krishnan, 5-7 and 160 pounds, looks too chunky to play. But he glides across the court, much like his father -- Ramanathan Krishnan, a former Wimbledon semifinalist and Davis Cup player for India -- and makes opponents crazy.
"He's very consistent," Nystrom said. "He makes you work for every point."
Krishnan, who is ranked 41st in the world, hardly looks as if he is working out there. The match was so strange that at one point in the third set tie breaker, the receiver won 10 straight points, an unofficial Wimbledon record.
But given the way the last few days have been around here, nothing seems strange. People are fainting from the heat, there are as many Australian men still playing as Americans and eight of 11 Swedes have been beaten.
If this keeps up, Evert or Navratilova may lose before the final -- and a lot more than 350 people would faint if that happened, regardless of the weather.