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You remember John Newcombe, surely. That handsome chap from Sydney whose serve and forehand volley could pierce armor plate? He played the Davis Cup Challenge Round for Australia at age 19 and went on to win a Forest Hills and three Wimbledons, but he has been semiretired from tennis lately, busy turning himself into a conglomerate: helping run a tennis ranch down in Texas that is about to branch out all over the Southwest, organizing an autumn tour of the Far East, even planning to act in a tennis mystery movie, Game, Set, Murder, in which he will die in mid-serve in the first scene. He has played in only nine tournaments this year, winning the Australian Open, which does not mean much anymore, and losing his first matches at the French and Italian Opens. During the U.S. Open at Forest Hills last week one newspaper even called him a "relic."
Some relic. John Newcombe is only 29, nine years younger than Ken Rosewall and only three years older than Stan Smith. When he sets his mind to it, and has enough preliminary tournaments under his belt, he can still look like the best tennis player in the world. He proved that last Sunday at Forest Hills, beating the amazingly quick Wimbledon champion, Jan Kodes, in a tough, very good five-set final and winning the $25,000 first prize and a new car.
Newk's triumph was only one of many for Australia over the weekend. In an all-Aussie women's final, Margaret Court won her fifth Forest Hills championship by beating Evonne Goolagong. Newk and countryman Owen Davidson won the men's doubles. Court and Great Britain's Virginia Wade took the women's doubles, and Davidson took the mixed doubles with Billie Jean King. About the only things Americans could be happy about were the facts that this was probably the last Forest Hills to be played on grass (it was as lumpy and pitted as ever and will be replaced by a synthetic surface next year) and that the event was smoothly run and a resounding financial success: the 12-day attendance was a record 137,488 and the tournament grossed more than $1 million.
For the first seven days Forest Hills was a giant steam bath, plagued by 90�-plus heat and a sweaty, tropical humidity that even wilted the red plastic geraniums lining either side of center court. The only comfortable people on the grounds seemed to be two Indians, the strikingly dark Amritraj brothers, Vijay and Anand, who come from Madras on the Bay of Bengal, in the same latitude as the Sudan, Nicaragua and Hades. Everyone else at the West Side Tennis Club was moaning and melting:
? Ilie Nastase won in straight sets the first round and walked off the court gasping. "I could not breathe out there," he complained. He was upset in the second round and left, forsaking his doubles partner.
? Evonne Goolagong, part Australian aborigine, said after one match, "I feel like I've just gone through a sauna."
?Mlle.—or whatever the French equivalent of Ms. is—Fran�oise Durr was leading Sally Greer when she had to default in the second set because of heat prostration. Durr was reared in Algeria, which is not exactly snow country.
Finally, the heat and humidity claimed one more victim, an important one, Billie Jean King.
The Wimbledon heroine and defending Forest Hills champion had strengthened her injured knee (hurt in a recent New Jersey tournament) by lifting weights, and she seemed as fit as ever, ready to justify her top seeding and charge into the final against second-seeded Court, another confrontation between the two best women players in the world. They had met in the final at Forest Hills once and at Wimbledon twice, Court winning each time. King intended to change that situation.