WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND, JUNE 27 -- If there is such a thing as a quiet day at Wimbledon, this was it. The second round began with the sadly muted retirement of Hana Mandlikova, gentle applause for the beaten English, and the ominous steps of defending champions Boris Becker and Steffi Graf advancing.
There was a sort of restfulness at the All England Club after the frantic completion of first-round play Tuesday, when seven seeded players lost. On this somnolent afternoon all 10 seeds who played moved safely into the third round, and the doubting questions about the form of Becker and Graf were partly silenced.
Second-seeded Becker had as much trouble with a gate guard as he did with Wally Masur, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. His next opponent is Dan Goldie, a product of McLean, Va., who now resides in Redwood City, Calif. Last year's surprise quarterfinalist, Goldie defeated doubles specialist and qualifier Ken Flach, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
"Big improvement," Becker said. "On all parts."
No. 1 Graf, a victim of screaming tabloid headlines, stormed through 19-year-old Meredith McGrath, 6-3, 6-0. She needed only 15 minutes to win the second set. According to Graf, the performance should be taken as evidence that she is rejuvenated by the smooth green lawns of Wimbledon and recovered from her upset loss in the French Open final to Monica Seles.
"I feel like a different person already," Graf said.
But Graf has two menacing little darlings to contend with in her half of the draw, 16-year-old Seles and 14-year-old Jennifer Capriati. Third-seeded Seles, although plagued by a pulled muscle in her rib cage and an ear infection, recovered from a 1-4 deficit in the second set to move past Camille Benjamin, 6-3, 7-5, and increase her winning streak to 35 matches, currently the longest in tennis.
Seles turned the match back in her favor when she recovered from 0-40 as she served at 1-4. She not only held serve, at one point dropping Benjamin to the grass with a sliding backhand, she swept three straight games and six of the last seven.
At 14 years 89 days, No. 12 Capriati made history Tuesday by becoming the youngest player to win a match at Wimbledon, barely surpassing Kathy Rinaldi, who in 1981 won at 14 years 91 days. Capriati has now done what Rinaldi could not, advancing to the third round, beating No. 37 Julie Halard, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).
Capriati also is one match from her much anticipated first meeting with Graf, one that would pit the two hardest hitters in the women's game save for Seles. Her confidence is irrepressible, giving her a chance to win the tournament.
"I mean, if I didn't feel like that, I mean, why should I even try for it, you know?" Capriati said. "I mean, that's the way I go into every tournament. It's going to be tough, but I'll just take it one match at a time."
The competitive freshness of Seles and Capriati makes a startling contrast to 28-year-old Mandlikova. A few years ago today's lackluster loss to Ann Henricksson, 6-3, 6-3, would have been shocking. But Mandlikova has fallen to No. 31 in the world and announced last week that Wimbledon would be her last event as a singles player.
"It's not interesting for me anymore," she said.
That was apparent as Mandlikova was never in their match, Henricksson's last backhand pass down the line ending an oftentimes brilliant 13-year career. Mandlikova calmly collected her rackets and walked away.
"I felt relieved and sad," she said. " . . . I felt free, to never be nervous again, to not have to practice as hard as I did."
Mandlikova's silky all-court game was quicksilver, and when it went, it went for good. She won two Australian Open titles, a French Open and a U.S. Open, but never Wimbledon, twice runner-up, to Chris Evert in 1981 and Martina Navratilova in 1986. At the 1985 U.S. Open she defeated Evert in the semifinals and Navratilova in the final for her most important victory. But ultimately she will be viewed as an underachiever and also something of an enigma, now to play doubles only and perhaps coach. She finishes with a lifetime singles record of 567-195.
Asked why her departure seemed so strangely unemotional, Mandlikova said: "These are my own feelings. When I close the door maybe there will be emotions."
The crowds were as subdued as the players, perhaps because they lost their home interests as the last three British players in the field were defeated. Sarah Loosemore, a 19-year-old who on Monday upset No. 16 Barbara Paulus, lost to Elna Reinach, 6-3, 7-5. Sara Gomer, the 6-foot-2 veteran from Torquay who upset No. 8 Manuela Maleeva in the first round, was eliminated by 16-year-old Angelica Gavaldon, 7-5, 0-6, 7-5.
Gavaldon, a Mexican-born resident of San Diego, has had some strange scores in the tournament thus far. She recovered from 0-5 in the second set against Jana Pospisilova in the first round to win in straight sets. Perhaps it is a result of her superstitions: She performs a kneeling ritual in the bathtub the night before, and morning of, every match, and eats the same meal, a baked potato and sweet corn. She also showers in the same stall every day.
There was great hope for Jeremy Bates, this country's top player who is ranked No. 92, against the eccentric No. 129 Derrick Rostagno, the upsetter of fourth-seeded John McEnroe. Rostagno, who wears a toy store necklace, showed much the same form save for some sluggish moments while Bates developed a blister on the bottom of his left foot, the result a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory for Rostagno. The turning point came as he broke Bates for the third set, brushing a low backhand return that the onrushing Englishman pushed awkwardly into the net with a half-volley.
"I knew there would probably be a letdown," Rostagno said. "I tried to fight it off and get excited to play again. I did pretty well in that respect."
The strangest finish of the day took place in a doubles match. Defending champions Anders Jarryd and John Fitzgerald were forced to retire, trailing Jonathan Canter and Bruce Derlin, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 1-0. The third seeds collided in the second set, Jarryd bruising his ribs. Eventually, he could not continue.
The most compelling match of the day was played on an outer court between two unseeded Americans, Paul Annacone and 19-year-old David Wheaton engaging in five taut sets before Wheaton emerged, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4.
A single ace may have decided it as Wheaton served at deuce, up by 5-4 in the final set. The ace originally was called wide, but the chair umpire overruled and gave Wheaton match point, to the ire of Annacone.
"That's when you want to bring out a gun and shoot someone," Annacone said.
Wheaton, a 6-foot-3, 170-pounder with a 130-mph serve, is as promising as any American left in the tournament. Goldie, another big server who last year upset Jimmy Connors, would be in that category if Becker were not his next opponent.
Becker's play has been just fair to middling this season and he has complained of general fatigue from overscheduling himself. But Wimbledon has given him new inspiration, and a certain testiness too.
He was irritated when a gate guard failed to recognize him as he entered the grounds, forcing him to search his pockets for the proper pass. "They stop me every time," he said. "It's nothing new. It took a minute to show it to her so she would believe I was the one." He is called less than a favorite because of his recent play, seeded second behind Ivan Lendl, who defeated him in straight sets at Queen's Club two weeks ago. Everyone else may be picking Lendl, but Becker said shortly, "I didn't pick him."
Goldie's hope is that his game, still recovering from a stress fracture in his left shin last summer, will be working on all cylinders and that Becker is not as sharp as he can be. The West German prefers to struggle somewhat in the first week, gradually building his game to a peak, and that could leave him vulnerable to upset.
"I'm looking forward to it, I think I have nothing to lose, I think it's a good opportunity," Goldie said. "I'd rather play him early, because he's only going to get better." SEEDS' SECOND-ROUND RESULTS MEN
Boris Becker (2), West Germany, def. Wally Masur, Australia, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-3, 6-2; Brad Gilbert (7), Piedmont, Calif., def. Danie Visser, South Africa, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2; Jonas Svensson (10), Sweden, def. Malivai Washington, Swartz Creek, Mich., 6-3, 6-3, 6-4; Guy Forget (11), France, def. Eric Jelen, West Germany, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-2. WOMEN
Steffi Graf (1), West Germany, def. Meredith McGrath, Midland, Mich., 6-3, 6-0; Monica Seles (3), Yugoslavia, def. Camille Benjamin, Bakersfield, Calif., 6-3, 7-5; Zina Garrison (5), Houston, def. Cecilia Dahlman, Sweden, 6-2, 6-1; Helena Sukova (10), Czechoslovakia, def. Nicole Jagerman, Netherlands, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5; Jennifer Capriati (12), Saddlebrook, Fla., def. Julie Halard, France, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2); Jana Novotna (13), Czechoslovakia, def. Carrie Cunningham, Livonia, Mich., 6-2, 6-1. TODAY'S FEATURED MATCHES Centre Court
Ivan Lendl (1), Greenwich, Conn., vs. Jakob Hlasek, Switzerland; Anne Smith, San Antonio, vs. Martina Navratilova (2), Aspen, Colo.; Stefan Edberg (3), Sweden, vs. Miloslav Mecir, Czechoslovakia. Court 1
Anke Huber, West Germany, vs. Gabriela Sabatini (4), Argentina; Jim Pugh, Palos Verdes, Calif., vs. Michael Chang (13), Placentia, Calif.; Kelly Jones, San Diego-Robert Van'T Hof, Dallas, vs. Pieter Aldrich-Danie Visser (2), South Africa. Court 2
Alex Antonitsch, Austria, vs. Henri Leconte (15), France; Gigi Fernandez, Puerto Rico, vs. Natalia Zvereva (11), Soviet Union. Court 3
Katerina Maleeva (7), Bulgaria, vs. Kimiko Date, Japan. Court 5
Judith Wiesner (14), Austria, vs. Karine Quentrec, France. Court 13
Ros Fairbank (15), San Diego, vs. Amy Frazier, Rochester Hills, Minn. Court 14
Jim Courier (9), Dade City, Fla., vs. Jason Stoltenberg, Australia.