Their lack of preparation showed from the start of the opening match in which Bungert met Ashe. Arthur required just 19 minutes to win the first set 6-2, then swept the remaining two sets, 10-8, 6-2. Wilhelm can be a deceptively indolent player who seldom comes to the net and often appears to be dozing on court, or perhaps mulling over the inventory of the store back home in D�sseldorf. "But," warned Ashe as he readied for the match, "he can look like that and still blow you off the court."
Not this time. Ashe broke the German's second service of the opening set after taking him to deuce, then broke him again immediately with the aid of two Bungert double faults. In the second set Bungert started putting a little steam into his serve, kept the ball on Ashe's forehand, his weakest side, and held service until the 17th game, when he was broken at love. The final set required only 16 minutes. Ashe ran off the last five games against a tiring Bungert with the loss of just four points.
"Was I tense?" Ashe asked following his decisive victory. "I'm still tense and I'll be tense until it's three-nothing our favor tomorrow. Then I'll go out and get drunk." Somehow Arthur seemed too cool to be believed. Only his prediction of the score carried conviction.
Richey was all furious determination when he took the court against Kuhnke after Ashe had dispatched Bungert. Obviously out to make Captain Turville's choice look good, he broke Kuhnke's first service and ran out the opening set 6-3. "I enjoy being put down by the other guy before a match," Richey said later. "It makes you try harder."
Trying harder, Richey bounced all around the court, making one incredible retrieve after another. He kept the pressure on his left-handed opponent's weak backhand with a soft, high-kicking spin service, which he followed rapidly to the net, winning point after point with devastatingly angled volleys. Richey won the second set 6-4, came back with six straight games to take the third set 6-2, scoring match point with a sizzling service ace that thundered past the dazed Kuhnke's attempt at a forehand return.
"Just before match point," Richey said, "I couldn't help looking over into Fred Stolle's eyes. He looked a bit green."
No greener than the German doubles pair of Bungert and Kuhnke looked again the following day. Then the old, familiar twosome of Smith and Bob Lutz clinched the match in a brief 77 minutes with a lopsided 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory.
So if the Davis Cup is to be buried soon, at least it will be laid to rest in U.S. soil, where it was born 70 years ago. What could save it from such a melancholy end may be nothing more than a new format, possibly a tennis version of the world team championships that now take place regularly in professional and amateur golf. The zonal eliminations could continue in their present form, except that all players—contract pros, independent pros, amateurs—would be eligible to compete. The object would be to come up with a workable number of, say, eight finalist nations. These eight would assemble for a week or so at a single venue and play a round-robin tournament in which each country would play singles and doubles matches against every other finalist. Obviously, Australia and the U.S. would still dominate the competition, but certainly Davis' original concept of genuine, worldwide participation in the Davis Cup matches would still be upheld.
Almost any change would be an improvement. If the contract professionals are admitted to the present form of competition, the matches may dwindle down to a two-team exercise, for instance, but certainly that is better than the one-team formality in fashion today. Some imaginative thinking by the international Davis Cup committee is needed to keep the coffin lid from being nailed down tight.