Sure enough, two days later in the quarterfinals against the only man ever to beat him in Paris, Borg's 18-match victory streak ended. Panatta, by this time flying on wings of confidence, cut the pace from Borg's vicious top spin until he was in position to volley, and he was remarkably consistent with his big serve. Borg finally relinquished his championship by 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6. "Last year I could not pass from backline," Panatta said. "Now I can wait and pass. I don't have to go to net to win point anymore."
In the other half of the draw, a tall Hungarian named Balacz Taroczy, who has a face like Jackie Cooper and a service windup like Luis Tiant, was causing all kinds of problems for typesetters. First he upset Jan Kodes, then he came from two sets down to upset Arthur Ashe. "It's embarrassing to say this at my age," said Ashe, "but when my play doesn't work, I'm in a quandry how to change it."
The Hungarian was piling up more victims than his countrywoman, Zsa Zsa Gabor, but with two Wimbledon champions down and one Mexican hero to go, Taroczy came to the end of the road against Raul Ramirez.
Before he put away Taroczy, Ramirez had swept quietly through four matches with the loss of only 19 games. On the other hand, his semifinals opponent, Solomon, had acted out his usual passion play in Paris, rallying from desperate straits in three different matches. When he reached the quarterfinal against the ever-brilliant Guillermo Vilas, Solomon was psyched up and ready to attack.
"I'm smacking it as hard as I can for as long as I can," Solomon said. "I'm going to win or they'll have to carry me out on a stretcher."
The two groundstroke specialists began their hammer and spin contest from the baselines early in the evening, splitting two one-sided sets before Vilas arrived at 6-all in the third set, 6-5 in the tie break, set point. The Argentine blasted a certain forehand winner into the corner, but Solomon raced four feet out of court to jerk a two-fisted backhand down the line past Vilas' racket and into the hearts of little men everywhere. Dispirited, Vilas made two errors to lose the set, then succumbed completely in the fourth under the gathering shadows.
By that time most of the players and officials were enjoying their tennis night at the Moulin Rouge featuring an assortment of jugglers, acrobats, performing dolphins and a certain amount of naked flesh. But Solomon had left a ton of his own out there in the dirt. "I'll never forget that backhand," he said after his 6-1, 0-6, 7-6, 6-1 victory. "I pulled that one out of you know where."
He still had a few left for Ramirez in the semis. Again it was an intense, even struggle. Again Solomon fell behind. And again in a key sequence he pulled off some marvelous shots to swing the match. This time Ramirez led in the fifth set 4-2 and was serving at 40-15, one point from a 5-2 margin. But the Mexican chose to serve and go to the net, and he was punished for it.
After four successive gutsy Solomon winners—the last a slashing overhead backhand volley—Ramirez appeared to be stunned. Solomon had broken back to 3-4 and he ran out the set with the loss of only four more points and won 6-7, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
The courtside temperature was posted as 52� Centigrade, which would be over 125� Fahrenheit, which would be ridiculous. Or would it? "I drank 22 bottles of water and lost nine pounds," said Solomon, who weighed 138' before the match. "I've never in my life been so exhausted."