NEW YORK, SEPT. 3 (THURSDAY) -- The post-Wimbledon problems of Pat Cash have peaked. Exactly two months after his most glorious moment in tennis, he suffered through one of his most frustrating matches, losing to Peter Lundgren early this morning in the first round of the U.S. Open.
Cash, who did not get on the court until 10 p.m. because of a rain delay, was beaten, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 by Lundgren, a 22-year-old Swede who beat Cash last month in the Canadian Open and then predicted on Sunday that he would beat the Wimbledon champion again in this tournament.
Cash, the seventh seed here, became the first Wimbledon champion to lose in the first round here since John Newcombe -- the last previous Australian to win Wimbledon -- lost to Jan Kodes at Forest Hills in 1971.
"I'm just stale," said Cash, who has played poorly all summer on hard courts. "I've only had four days off since Wimbledon and I need a break. The guy played very well but I played poorly in both matches against him, and I feel badly about that. It's not the end of the world, though."
It was certainly a highlight for Lundgren, who is a boisterous, swaggering player who punches the air when he hits winners and seems to strut to the chair after winning a game with an impressive shot.
He came up with those shots at the key moments. All three of his service breaks in the match came when Cash was serving at 4-5 to stay in a set. Lundgren won the first set when Cash netted a backhand volley, won the third when he slapped a forehand long and won the match when Cash's backhand floated long on the first match point of the night, two hours and 44 minutes into the match at 12:44 a.m.
"I had a lot of chances, in fact I had more chances than he did," Cash said. "But I kept losing concentration. The last game was typical. I was up, 40-0, and lost the game. That shouldn't happen."
His loss was the first significant one of the tournament and the first one by a men's seed. Only one women's seed -- No. 15 Barbara Potter -- has lost.
"I just played really well on the big points," said Lundgren, who has gone from 112th to 47 in just three weeks on the computer rankings. "I was serving well and I was really loose out there. This match was a lot like when I beat him in Montreal, but to beat a player like him in a Grand Slam is very tough. The crowd was for sure unbelievable. I think they were for both of us."
His defeat came at the tail end of a day marked by a string of victories by seeded players and highlighted by yet another chapter in this tournament's longest running saga, the Jimmy and Chrissie story.
Between them, they have won 168 matches in this tournament -- she has 88 victories, he has 80. She has won the title six times, he has won it five. No woman has won more matches here than she has. No man has won more than he.
Today, Evert and Connors played their tennis song again, one that has changed its tone over the years, but never its theme. They both won their opening-round matches in the U.S. Open and they both made it look easy.
Connors turned 35 today. He received an invitation from the U.S. Tennis Association to play in the 35-and-over singles, but politely declined, opting to play in the regular men's singles for the 18th time. "I still like getting out there and scuffling with the younger guys," he said after wiping out 24-year-old Joey Rive, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
Evert is just a kid. She won't be 33 until December and this is only her 17th Open. She has never -- that's never -- lost before the semifinals of this tournament. Today, she cruised past teen-ager Susan Sloane, 6-1, 6-0, and came off the court talking about how nervous she had been.
The woman most people expect to win this tournament, Steffi Graf, opened with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Bettina Fulco. Graf, who had root-canal dental surgery 10 days ago, said she had practiced poorly last week but found her game in practice this morning.
"The first few days I came back to practice I couldn't serve," said Graf, who sported a new ponytail look on the court. "This morning, though, I began to feel good again. I was hitting the ball well."
Very well. Fulco is a solid player, ranked 55th in the world. Graf, who has lost 27 games in 10 first-round matches this year, swept the first nine games, showing no effect from her root-canal. When Fulco finally won a game, the crowd on the breezy grandstand court gave her a huge ovation. It didn't bother Graf.
They rooted Fulco back to 5-3 before Graf closed out the match with one more whipsaw forehand. Does she feel pressure being the No. 1 seed and the No. 1 player? "Not at all," Graf said. "I just want to stay there."
Graf and Evert, who are seeded to meet in the semifinals, were joined in the second round by 11th-seeded Lori McNeil, 12th-seeded Bettina Bunge and Wendy Turnbull, all straight-set winners. Among the other women's winners this afternoon were Baltimore's Elise Burgin, who came from 3-5 down in the first set to beat Monique Javer, 7-5, 6-4, and Carling Bassett, a semifinalist here in 1984, who beat Wimbledon quarterfinalist Dianne Balestrat, 6-4, 6-2.
That was when the sun was shining and the freshening breeze hinted at an evening rain. That rain came 40 minutes into Pam Shriver's match with Wendy White. Shriver had just finished off the first set when the sky began spitting.
She waited 43 minutes, then came back to finish off White, 6-3, 6-3.
The men were as formful as the women during the daylight hours.
Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander, the Swedish duo seeded second and third, won in straight sets, as did last year's losing finalist Miloslav Mecir, the fifth seed. Mecir beat fellow Czechoslovakian Karel Novacek, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), in a rematch of their French Open quarterfinal. Andres Gomez, the ninth seed; Joakim Nystrom, No. 10, and Tim Mayotte, No. 12, also won in straight sets as did two-time semifinalist Johan Kriek.
With no one tearing up the outside courts, with no 15-year-olds winning matches, with John McEnroe having a day off, the stage was left clear for Connors and Evert.
Their names always will be linked because they came along at the same time, because they stayed around so long and because they were once engaged to be married. Each talks easily and comfortably about the other even though their lives have gone in different directions.
"We're similar in a lot of ways," Evert said. "He learned from his mother, I learned from my father. We both started winning at a very young age. Winning, competing, it's in our blood, it's part of both of us. We've both stayed eager for a long time."
Pressure is something they have handled remarkably well over the years, not only the pressure of winning matches, but the pressure of having been on top for so many years. Now, she is No. 3 in the world and he is still No. 6. If someone were writing a script, this tournament would end with Evert and Connors somehow producing one last victory, one that they and everyone would remember.
"At this point in my life that would be very big," Evert said. "The one thing that getting older does is it makes you appreciate winning more because it gets harder every year."
To watch her and Connors today, no one would ever guess it.