Smith, nicknamed Godzilla by Nastase and called The Leaning Tower of Pasadena by others, and van Dillen, extremely quick at the net, had an 8-1 Davis Cup record over three years, their most impressive victory coming against Nastase-Tiriac last year when they scored 15 straight points in one gutsy, lucky stretch. It was naturally to their advantage that they were playing in their home state and on cement, a familiar surface. Smith and van Dillen also had the comfort of a family rooting section. Stan's parents—who had moved from California to South Carolina and back again—had come north from their condominium in Newport Beach. Erik's parents had only an hour's drive from San Mateo, where his stepfather owns the San Mateo Times.
Still, they had been forced to battle for 122 games, five sets and six hours in Little Rock before beating Jaime Fillol and Patricio Cornejo of Chile, so maybe Ilie and Ionel did have a chance. Nope. The U.S. won easily, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. Van Dillen was so acrobatic that someone could have been firing a pistol from across the net and he would have managed to get his racket on the bullets. In one rat-a-tat rally late in the third set he made three incredible volleys and half-volleys in a row, like an ice-hockey goalie under siege from the Canadiens' best line. Smith, as amazed a spectator as anybody else, bowed to him, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. The San Mateo Times probably hauled out its biggest, blackest banner-headline type since Armstrong stepped on the moon.
Of course, it was a nice afternoon's work for Smith, too. He had won his Davis Cup match, and at just about the same time he and van Dillen were playing he could be seen beating Cliff Richey on a taped TV show.
Thus, the U.S. went into Monday afternoon's matches with a 2-1 lead, as expected, and Rumania had to take both singles in order to win. If Ovici could somehow beat Riessen, the whole thing would boil down to the last match. Perfect casting: Godzilla vs. Nasty, "the two best tennis players in the world" according to Ralston and just about everybody else.
To hell with high drama, said Riessen, who fell that a few key points had made "all the difference in the world" in his loss of the first match to Nastase. Taking full advantage of his experience, Riessen beat young Ovici, who played surprisingly well 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, turning the big match between Smith and Nastase into a mere exhibition.
America's opponent in the next and final Davis Cup round will be decided by the Australia- Czechoslovakia matches to be held in Sydney in mid-November. The winner, most likely Australia, comes to Cleveland Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2 to meet Smith & Co. in the first indoor final in the 73-year history of cup pursuit.