Because of a production error, the front page of the Sports section in some copies of one edition yesterday carried a duplicate story about the Wimbledon tennis championships. (Published 6/30/87)
LONDON, JUNE 28 -- Week two of the 101st Wimbledon tennis championships produced two things: lots of rain and the shocking exit of Boris Becker. Those developments mean two things for week two: a backed up schedule and a men's draw with at least six possible winners.
It has been a strange tournament. The first four days the only upset of any kind came Wednesday, during brief spells when the sun came out. Not a single seed lost. On the women's side, 14 seeds played matches and not one lost a set.
Then, on Friday, seven seeds lost. It was a hectic day to start with, but when one of the losers is a champion considered virtually invincible, it becomes a day for history. Although Becker lost to a player who is almost certain never to reach such heights again, one can say this: Peter Doohan played remarkable tennis. Ivan Lendl, who probably will benefit most from Becker's defeat, put it best: "I could see it coming. Boris wasn't playing badly at all, Doohan was just playing great. There wasn't much Boris could do. There just wasn't any room for him."
Doohan, a 26-year-old Australian with a reputation as a loner, had a career day. He volleyed as well as anyone can volley, much less the No. 70 player in the world. He served consistently and he jumped all over Becker's second serve when given a chance.
Becker's loss has brought all the second-guessers out of the woodwork. Some say he must hire a coach to replace the fired Gunther Bosch. That probably is true. Others say he was lonely for his girlfriend, Benedicte Courtin, left home in Monte Carlo at the insistence of Becker's manager, Ion Tiriac.
But it was Becker's friend, Henri Leconte, who presaged Becker's loss 24 hours before it happened. "I don't think Boris is serving as well as he did last year," Leconte said. "He's missing more first serves and sometimes double faulting trying to do too much with his second. Other players know if they can get the second serve in play, they have a chance."
In the match's key game, the opening game of the third set, Becker double faulted twice, then watched helplessly while Doohan ripped a backhand return on a second serve for the break.
Becker is not scheduled to play again until West Germany's Davis Cup relegation tie against the United States, beginning July 24 in Hartford, Conn. There, he may face John McEnroe. That could be a fascinating weekend for both players.
For this Wimbledon, though, he is a memory. His absence opens up the top half of the draw for someone like Pat Cash, Tim Mayotte, Mats Wilander or even Jimmy Connors to come through to the final. "You try not to look ahead when something like this happens," Mayotte said Saturday. "But it's a thought you go to bed with every night. We now know that unless Connors wins, there's going to be a new Wimbledon champion. That's an exciting thought."
The favorite to most people here right now is Stefan Edberg. He's the most natural grass-court player in the game other than Becker and the one seed who has reached the fourth round without losing a set.
This will be an interesting test for Edberg. At 21 he has won the Australian Open twice but has never done well here. He is likely to face Miloslav Mecir in the quarterfinals, the man who blew him away in straight sets here last year. That probably would be followed by a semifinal against Lendl or Leconte. Either way, two tough matches.
And what of Lendl? His play in three matches has been so poor that even he has taken to joking about it. "I've made a lot of people famous here," he said one day after barely beating Paolo Cane -- who has exactly one Wimbledon victory to his name.
"The one thing about struggling all the time is that when you get to the late rounds and you're in a tough match, you've been through it before," Lendl said. "I think for Boris, he had won so easily here for so long that when he got in trouble he didn't know what to do."
Perhaps so. Lendl certainly knows about trouble at Wimbledon. Now, he faces Johan Kriek, who seems to have a mental block about playing Lendl. Lendl should move on to play Leconte, who beat him here two years ago. Leconte, on a given day, can beat anyone. Or lose to anyone.
The person hurt most by the rain probably will be the 34-year-old Connors, who admits that playing back-to-back days in the best-of-five format is tough for him. Even so, he is dangerous, especially for Mayotte in the fourth round.
Cash and Mats Wilander should play in the quarterfinals. A year ago, in the round of 16, Cash beat Wilander. On grass, he should be favored, although Wilander has put a lot of effort into changing his horrid record here.
Still, the semifinals should be Mayotte-Cash and Lendl-Edberg. Both those matches are tossups. Cash and Edberg have the flair, Lendl and Mayotte the experience. At Wimbledon, you bet on experience. The most experienced of the four is Lendl.
And what of the women? As often happens the first week, upsets on the men's side overshadow the women completely. Five seeds have lost, but none of those losers was expected to be a factor in the tournament.
There are five women who can win: Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Pam Shriver, Helena Sukova and, yes, Chris Evert. Navratilova, zero for six in tournaments this year, has looked superb so far, winning two matches in a total of 74 minutes. Her path to the semifinals is clear with no seeds left in her way.
Evert is her likely opponent there, although Claudia Kohde-Kilsch could give Evert a bit of trouble if Kohde-Kilsch were to reach the quarterfinals. Even that is no lock, though. Elizabeth Smylie, her next opponent, is fully capable of an upset.
The lower half is far more intriguing. Shriver and Sukova should meet in a very tall and very fascinating quarterfinal. Sukova's mother was a finalist here in 1962 -- the year Shriver was born on July 4. Sukova, having beaten Evert and Navratilova at Eastbourne, is full of confidence. Shriver is full of desire. A tossup.
Graf will be in the other quarterfinal against either Gabriela Sabatini or Natalia Zvereva, the 16-year-old Soviet who is capable of upsetting Sabatini. Graf, whom everyone wondered about on grass, looks like she was born on the stuff, so far. "But I haven't played anybody very good yet," she pointed out.
Navratilova-Evert in one semifinal; Shriver-Graf in the other. Navratilova whipped Evert on clay in Paris. Some say being written off gives Evert a psychological boost. Doesn't matter. She's 1-5 against Navratilova here.
Graf-Shriver? This is one of the great unnoticed rivalries in the sport. Two years ago, they played one of the great U.S. Open matches ever. They also played a three-set classic here. Sentiment says Shriver, the head says Graf. Either way, for reasons unknown, the pick to win the tournament is the winner of that match.
There will be two new champions at Wimbledon this year. TODAY'S FEATURED MATCHES Centre Court
Mats Wilander (3), Sweden, vs. Jonas B. Svensson, Sweden; Miloslav Mecir (5), Czechoslovakia, vs. Anders Jarryd, Sweden; Chris Evert (3), Boca Raton, Fla., def. Kumiko Okamoto, Japan. Court One
Pam Shriver (5), Lutherville, Md., vs. Beth Herr, Dayton, Ohio; Tim Mayotte (10), Bradenton, Fla., vs. Mikael Pernfors, Sweden. Court Two
Martina Navratilova (1), Fort Worth, vs. Peanut Louie Harper, San Francisco; Kelly Evernden, New Zealand, vs. Jimmy Connors (7), Sanibel Harbor, Fla. Court Three
Pat Cash (11), Australia, vs. Michiel Schapers, Netherlands; Elizabeth Smylie, Australia, vs. Claudia Kohde-Kilsch (8), West Germany. Court Four
Christo Van Rensburg, South Africa, vs. Emilio Sanchez (14), Spain. Court 13
Catarina Lindqvist (11), Sweden, vs. Elise Burgin, Baltimore. Court 14
Rosalyn Fairbank, South Africa, vs. Bettina Bunge (9), West Germany.