When it was stated during a court hearing that Gonzalez had received a $5,000 guarantee from the promoters of the tournament, whereas first prize money was only $1,400, the other players got as bitter as Trabert. "This man comes out of retirement, making 540,000 a year, and tries to break up our association," said Ken Rosewall.
"They won't even practice with me," said Gonzalez, "but I'm going to win this tournament and when I do, what are they going to do without the best player in the world?"
On the opening day of the tournament Gonzalez ate a sandwich and drank a glass of iced tea on the veranda of the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills. He was wearing yellow Bermuda shorts, a red, white and blue sport shirt, green shin-length socks and brightly shined loafers. His dark hair was long, movie actor style. Completely gone was the tall, shy boy of Mexican descent who had shot from nowhere to win the National Championship at this very club 15 years before. This man, despite his copper skin and the wicked-looking scar on his cheek, could have been born in Newport.
A photographer was buzzing around snapping pictures. "Why don't you give that thing a rest?" barked Pancho. A reporter, offering his hand, was told: "Don't bother me now." Gonzalez finished his lunch, watched a few minutes of the Hoad-Buchholz match and then got ready to play.
The first set was long. Olmedo had no trouble holding service. Gonzalez, on the other hand, was in constant trouble. He was slow getting up to net and he committed a steady stream of astonishing errors. When he made two of them in the 18th game, Olmedo broke through and won the set 10-8.
In the second set Gonzalez came to life for a few minutes. His timing sharpened and his energy was not yet exhausted. For a brief time he was a young man again, covering the court like an animal. He tore off five straight games to win the set 6-2. But in the third set he fell behind 3-0 and all but stopped playing, walking through the last three games to lose 6-0. The 10-minute rest period was not nearly long enough. Olmedo hit short shots and lobs, and the former champion chased them futilely, the loud clomp of his feet on the court revealing how heavy his legs were. At 5-0 Gonzalez managed to hold his serve, then lost four straight points and the match. As he dumped the final shot in the net, Gonzalez looked for a second as if he were going to throw his racket—or perhaps swallow it. Then, head down, he trotted to the net and gave Olmedo a bitter smile.
In the clubhouse Tony Trabert was having a ball. "The king of tennis no longer reigns supreme," he told reporters. " Gonzalez was thoroughly beaten and I enjoyed it very much, particularly after all the threats and boasts he's made. He's just not the man he used to be."
In another part of the clubhouse Gonzalez sat dejectedly on a wooden bench, a towel draped around his waist. "I don't like to quit like this," he said softly. "Such a poor showing. My legs just gave out." Then defiance crept into his voice. "One loss doesn't necessarily finish me. I'll still play any one of them anytime, if they dare. And I'll guarantee the gate. I'll play them Sunday, Monday, Tuesday..." His voice trailed off and reporters shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other. "In any case," he said at last, "don't write my obituary yet."
Finished, Gonzalez rose, took a shower and dressed. He went downstairs to the club dining room where his wife was sitting alone in a corner. He sat down and took her hand. Then he quietly wept.