Two days ago, after he had survived a wonderful five-set match against Paul Annacone, Stefan Edberg was invited to appear the next morning on the "Today Show." His coach, Tony Pickard, said no. Not until after the tournament.
Edberg is available for Monday's show. He should not, however, spend a lot of time by the phone waiting for it to ring. Today, on yet another hot, sunny day at Wimbledon, fifth-seeded Edberg was swept briskly out of the third round by Miloslav Mecir, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
"He just played out of his mind," Edberg said. "I couldn't do anything. He was just too good."
Edberg's loss was the most significant upset here in four days. The only other seeded player to lose today was women's No. 4 Claudia Kohde-Kilsch. But her 6-4, 6-1 loss to Raffaella Reggi was not a shock. Reggi, 20, is a solid player, ranked No. 33 in the world, and Kohde-Kilsch has played poorly all spring, complaining of minor injuries.
Kohde-Kilsch has seemed to lack spark lately when she falls behind. That was evident today as Reggi, Italy's best player, blew her away.
Other seeded players advanced with minor problems: Martina Navratilova, who has yet to play a match against a player in the top 100 (and will face No. 161 Isabella Demongeot in the fourth round), needed little time to beat Kris Kinney, 6-2, 6-0. Chris Evert Lloyd took a little longer against Kathleen Horvath, winning, 6-4, 6-1. Hana Mandlikova, Helena Sukova, Manuela Maleeva, Gabriela Sabatini, Carling Bassett, Catarina Lindqvist and Kathy Jordan all advanced today. Only Lindqvist dropping a set.
Evert next plays Jordan, the only player who has beaten her in a Grand Slam tournament match before the semifinals. That came here in 1983 in the third round when Evert had a stomach virus. "I think I'll be healthier," Evert said. "I also think I'll be really psyched up."
Other than Edberg, the bottom half of the men's draw was holding to form. Mats Wilander, Boris Becker, Mikael Pernfors, Brad Gilbert and Pat Cash each dropped a set, but won. Henri Leconte didn't even drop a set.
Cash again is becoming the unseeded darling of Wimbledon. He did it two years ago when he beat Wilander (his next opponent) and reached the semifinals. This time, he is coming back from a year of injuries. Today, while he played on court 14, the fans were so noisy the umpire had to keep asking for quiet.
Cash loves the whole show. When he finally finished off Jay Lapidus, 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (7-3), 7-5, he swaggered across the court and tossed wrist bands and head bands to the crowd. "They queue up for hours to get in, they deserve it," Cash said quite seriously. "I only give them ones I use in practice. Not new ones."
While Cash was being escorted by eight policemen back to the locker room, Becker was having a tiny bit of trouble on Centre Court with Paul McNamee. Becker was cruising along, up two sets, when he took one of his famous tumbles trailing, 4-3, (on serve) in the third. He came up limping. McNamee went on to win the set, the set ending when Becker double faulted.
But just when Becker was beginning to pout, he cracked two returns, broke McNamee to begin the fourth set and served out the match easily. Becker said he had pulled his right Achilles' tendon, but, "I think it will be all right."
His next match will be against Pernfors, who came here off a superb performance in the French Open, but still was not expected to do much. He had played grass court tennis for exactly five minutes before arriving here and people told him not to expect to win a match at Wimbledon for three years.
"I guess they were exaggerating," Pernfors said today after dropping the first set to Sammy Giammalva before storming back to win. "I was a little surprised how easily I got used to the surface. It really doesn't matter that much to me what I play on."
Pernfors has won not one match, but three, and will play Becker, whom he beat in the French quarterfinals. He will be a decided underdog against Becker on grass, but he has been an underdog in almost every match he has played here and in Paris. So far, he's 9-1 and still playing.
He is one of only two Swedes still doing so. Wilander was not sharp today, for the second match in a row, but bounced back after losing the third set to Australian Mark Kratzmann to blow him away, 6-1, in the fourth. Still, he was not happy with himself.
"I don't know what it is, but when I get ahead I have trouble concentrating," he said. ". . . Against a really good player, I may not be able to recover when I do that."
That good player could well be Cash. Even though he had his appendix removed just four weeks ago, Cash is playing good tennis. He is capable, especially given Wilander's struggles, of doing to him just what Mecir did to Edberg today.
Mecir finished last year ranked No. 9 in the world but was out for three months at the end of the year and early this year because of surgery on his left knee. His ranking has dropped to No. 30, but he says the injury may be a plus.
"I was getting really tired of tennis when I went out," he said. "It was good to have a long rest as it turned out. I feel a lot more confident playing on the grass this year. But today, I was a little bit lucky."
If hitting lines with passing shots is luck, perhaps. But Mecir consistently blasted Edberg's serve past him even when Edberg, in his words, "wasn't serving badly."
Mecir can be difficult to play because of his unorthodox style. Lanky and bearded, he is nicknamed "Big Cat," and when he unfolds his 6-foot-3 body to serve, he is like a pitcher with a funny wind-up throwing a fastball out of a white background.
He is tough. "I can't play him," Wilander once said. In fact, all the Swedes struggle against Mecir. He is 14-2 against them the last two years. "I don't know why," he said with a smile. "I just hit the good shots on break points."
He hit one to win the first set, one to win the second and unleashed four gorgeous returns to break Edberg at the start of the third. Edberg's only break points in the match came with Mecir serving at 2-1 in the third set when Mecir double faulted twice to go down, 15-40. He then served an ace and three clean winners.
"That was my only real chance," Edberg said. "And as it turned out, it wasn't much of a chance."
Mecir ended the match with a service winner. He jumped for joy while Edberg shrugged off the loss. "I guess I'm sad," he said. "I'll just go and get ready for the next tournament."