Australia finally recovered the Davis Cup at Forest Hills last week. When Neale Fraser finally finished off Barry MacKay on Monday 8-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, it gave the Aussies the victory, three matches to two. Both MacKay and Alex Olmedo, the Peruvian who was supposed to carry the main hopes of the U.S. team, had beaten Rod Laver, the No. 2 Australian, but those were our only points. The rest of the time, due largely to Olmedo's disappointing play, it was a field day for the boys from down under.
Two days before the challenge round, munching hors d'oeuvres at the Commodore Hotel where the Davis Cup draw was being made, U.S. Captain Perry Jones confidently predicted his tennis forces would sweep past the challenging Australians 5-0.
This was not a mere psychological thrust. There appeared sound reasoning for such an optimistic outlook. America had Alex Olmedo, who eight months before had crushed a far finer Australian team in the tennis upset of the generation. Barry MacKay was now playing the best tennis of his life. And only a few days before, in the U.S. championship at Brookline, Mass., Olmedo and 18-year-old Earl Buchholz Jr. had carried Australia's World Doubles Champions Neale Fraser and Roy Emerson to five sets, with Olmedo obviously off form.
Jones's reasoning was that if Olmedo and Company could beat Ashley Cooper and Mal Anderson, then rated the top amateurs of the world, as they did in Brisbane last December, then they should have little trouble with the second-stringers Captain Harry Hopman had assembled after Cooper and Anderson turned pro.
First of all, Olmedo, whose tennis is dictated by his moods, suddenly turned sour. He was not mentally prepared for the big assignment, and as a result the power of America's resistance crumbled.
At Brisbane, Olmedo had been prodded to his superior effort by a team of Jack Kramer's hardened professionals, particularly Pancho Gonzales. Since then Kramer had quit as the team's chief counsel because of criticism, and Gonzales now was back in Los Angeles, pouting over a contract feud with Boss Kramer.
In the opening singles match against Fraser, Olmedo was dull and listless. There was no fire or determination. He merely went through the motions.
Explanations for this letdown were many. Some said he was still smarting from the official slaps he took after his lackadaisical loss to Abe Segal and subsequent suspension in the clay-court tournament in Chicago. Others said it was the tension and responsibility of being recognized as the best amateur in the world. Captain Jones said he thought his star player was spoiled by too much adulation. At any rate, Olmedo was definitely down.
Fraser served remarkably. He completely confounded Olmedo with his high bounding spin service, which he put into the backhand or forehand corners with a deceptively similar motion. Alex put in play only 40% of Fraser's serves.