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For many American players, the Davis Cup has lost much of its luster. Because tournaments and exhibitions pay far better, Jimmy Connors, Vitas Gerulaitis et al. always seem to be unavailable when it comes time to play for the U.S. John McEnroe, however, has always been committed to the Davis Cup and for the past four years has been the mainstay of the American squad. His performance against Sweden last week in the quarterfinal round of Cup play dramatically underscored both these facts.
Seven days after losing his Wimbledon crown in a five-set, four-hour struggle against Connors, McEnroe found himself facing French Open champion Mats Wilander in the fifth and deciding match in the St. Louis Checkerdome. (Why must a tennis match in July be played indoors, anyway?) Taking on this hungry wunderkind was undoubtedly the last way McEnroe wanted to spend a Sunday evening. Five sets (9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6), 6� hours and 79 games later, McEnroe had won one of the most memorable matches in Davis Cup—all of tennis?—history. Many players would have called it a day after winning the first two sets and gaining a break in the third—only to lose the marathon set. Many would have given up in the fifth set, when they were dead tired, their opponent was making next to no unforced errors and they weren't playing particularly well to boot. McEnroe didn't. To be sure, McEnroe was his usual irascible self: menacing linemen, badgering the umpire and agonizing over his own blunders. Once, when the net judge called an apparent McEnroe ace a let, McEnroe yelled, "Come on, pal, you're American." Still, as this match reminded us, giving his all in Davis Cup play also is part of McEnroe's usual self.
DOGS OF A FEATHER
The following ad appeared the other day in The New York Times , under the classification of Imported & Sports Cars Wanted:
DELOREAN—will trade 2,000 cases Chinese vodka (in bond value $25,500) for new auto DeLorean or similar exotic. 201-492-0089.
The DeLorean is the gull-wing sports car that came on the U.S. market with a highly publicized splash (and a $26,000 price tag) in 1981. But what in the world is Chinese vodka? Well, it turns out to be the DeLorean of the liquor business. Called Great Wall Vodka, it was described as the most expensive vodka in the world—at more than $10 a bottle—when it arrived in the U.S. in 1976.
Alas, both Great Wall Vodka and DeLorean have more or less sunk since their splashy debuts. John DeLorean's Northern Ireland auto plant is in receivership, the future of his company is in doubt and the car's market value has dropped to around $15,000. As for Great Wall, marketing money dried up and no great demand for the product developed, as David Cookson, the New Jersey import-export dealer who placed the ad, is the first to admit. Still, as all salesmen know, you've got to move the merchandise.
"The vodka was a dog for me," says Cookson, "and I saw that the DeLorean wasn't too easy to move, either. I thought this might be a way for two people with problems to come out whole."
Cookson says if a trade is effected he'll keep the DeLorean and sell the Mustang he now drives. So far, several interested people, both with and without DeLoreans, have phoned him about the vodka, but as of last weekend the Great Wall still had not moved.