Not since 1968 had both the men's and women's titles at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open gone to six different players. But at least the scramble for the top spot among the women was settled definitively in Melbourne. Wimbledon winner Martina Navratilova barely got by U.S. Open champion Hana Mandlikova to meet Chris Evert Lloyd, who won at Paris, for the 67th time. Navratilova prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-2—"one set for the world," according to the inimitable Bud Collins. Navratilova finished the year with a 4-2 record against Evert Lloyd.
Back on the men's side, the most perplexing question in Melbourne wasn't who's No. 1 but what's up with McEnroe. Might he retire behind a picket fence to raise Little Darlings with Tatum? Might he go off to string rackets with the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh? Might he stay with demon tennis long enough either to retire all the trophies or to zap all the lines persons, or both?
In Melbourne, McEnroe was at his most enigmatic. Once he demanded referee Peter Bellenger's presence on the court and then asserted just as strongly that Bellenger had no business there. McEnroe also told colleagues he didn't know whether "to try or to tank" in Australia—and there seemed plenty of the latter in his debacle against Zivojinovic. That was the first time Mac had ever been shut out in a fifth set.
Maybe it was merely the surroundings. Aborigines once stalked winged meals with boomerangs on the site of what is now Kooyong. The name means "haunt of the wild fowl" in their native tongue. In Melbourne, tennis again produced weird birds.