Sept. 2—Terry Phelps falls 6-1, 6-1. Tall, gangling and outgoing, Phelps is from Larchmont, N.Y. Spent last night with her parents. Phone rang incessantly. Good luck. Good luck. Any tickets?
At each end of the Stadium Court is a large digital clock that shows elapsed time of the match. Graf is devastating. Phelps, the world's 43rd-ranked player, loses 13 points in a row. After three games, digital clock reads 00:06. Fan wearing T-shirt that reads HAPPINESS IS A BIG SECOND SERVE calls out, "�No m�s!" Match over in 37 minutes. Phelps is appalled. Takes almost an hour to compose herself.
"Wow!" she says in the players' lounge. "I felt like I was playing a guy. Unbelievable. It was, like, wow!" She shakes her head in astonishment and says, "Oh, yes, I had lots of advice: Take the second serve and go to net, hit high shots, serve and volley once a game, don't give her any pace. If I had spotted any of those people in the stands, I would have shouted, 'Idiots!' Nothing works. And that awful clock. It's so large. I'd glance at it and see 20 minutes, a set gone by, and I'd say to myself, 'Oh, no! Get me off the court.' Well, that's what happened. I didn't even sweat."
Sept. 4—Ros Fairbank falls 6-4, 6-0.
How long does it take Graf to dispatch her opponents? Keepers of gloomy statistics recall her 32-minute rout of Natalia Zvereva in the 1988 French Open final and the 32 minutes she needed a few weeks ago in Mahwah to subdue Kim Kessaris, who won only 11 points. Fairbank, the world's No. 32 player, had this on her mind—the fear of a 6-0, 6-0 sweep.
Last night was a bad night. She doesn't like playing in New York. Plane noise. Lack of practice courts. Her second-round match was played in a swirling cloud of smoke from hamburger grills. "Not a place for a vegetarian player," she says. All in all, hardly a good frame of mind to take into a match against Graf.
Fairbank plays the first set with surety and superb anticipation, and she has a game point to go up 5-2. But can't convert. Graf runs off nine games in a row and wins the last set in 21 minutes.
Want a thrill for Fairbank? She was asked to the interview room at the Open for the first time. A goal for the tournament was to play well enough to be asked. Sits behind a long table. Evian bottles on top. TV cameras out front. Her answers are insightful. In midflight, however, an official takes over the microphone and says, "Thank you very much." Fairbank is surprised. Is told Graf is waiting in the wings.
"You get the feeling she knows her opponents do not feel they can beat her," she says later. Fairbank's husband is a sports psychologist. Lot of patching up to do.
Sept. 6—Helena Sukova falls 6-1, 6-1. In the players' lounge Ilie Nastase, who's playing in the over-35's, is teaching his son, Nicholas, barely two years old, to hit a two-handed backhand. Boy and racket about same height. Perfect form and follow-through. Sukova appears with her coach, Lada Travnicek. Comes back from salad bar with blueberry yogurt, banana and lemonade.