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Following his 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 defeat, Panatta confirmed what many non-Swedish observers have been saying all year: that McEnroe is the best player in the world under a roof. "A new phenomenon of tennis," Panatta said of McEnroe.
"I won't argue," said Junior.
Another phenomenon wrapped up the U.S. win on Saturday: the doubles team of Stan Smith, 33, and Bob Lutz, 32, who have played Davis Cup since 1968. Inasmuch as they struggled in Cup play all season—they had a near loss against Argentina and an actual loss in Australia, which amazingly was their first defeat in Davis Cup—and inasmuch as this was probably their last hurrah, the clinching point meant so much more.
"I thought about this being the end during the national anthem," Lutz said. "We wanted to win very badly and not go out over the hill."
While McEnroe's light-hearted, cutting remarks at the U.S. Open—" Smith and Lutz used to be great but they aren't anymore. They're as old as my parents"—must have rankled the doubles partners, all was forgotten Saturday afternoon when they slashed and poached as of old while taking apart Bertolucci and Panatta, 6-4, 12-10, 6-2.
The chubby Bertolucci prolonged the second set with some spectacular lunging at net, but the true suspense centered on whether the even more wonderfully rotund Serafino, who had been belting arias and waving his tiny Italian flags from a courtside box all afternoon, would get in an entire opera before Smith and Lutz had finished their work.
Serafino didn't, but Smith did add his name to the historical rolls; it was his sixth clinching Davis Cup match, putting him one ahead of Australia's Roy Emerson for the most ever, and his seventh appearance on a winning team, tying him for second with Bill Tilden, one behind Emerson.
Smith's chances of increasing those numbers were diminished with Trabert's announcement that he has already invited Fleming to join the team as half of the American doubles partnership for next season. But that simply puts another patriot closer to all the records.
Fleming's partner is McEnroe; together they won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the Masters and the WCT World Championship in 1979. Now Junior says he'll play Davis as long as he's wanted. Depending on your point of view—not to mention your country—that means the future of the Davis Cup may indeed be getting out of hand.