THE OTHER LLOYD WHIPS HIGUERAS IN OPEN SURPRISE
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Friday, September 2, 1983
Steve Goldstein, Inquirer Staff Writer
With his wife watching nervously in the stands and perhaps wanting the victory even more than he did, John Lloyd yesterday scored the biggest upset of the 1983 U.S. Open so far, ousting 10th-seeded Jose Higueras of Spain.
"I have been working hard, and I have tried to get some belief in myself," Lloyd said after his emotional 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 triumph on a field court at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow. "I've realized that it's now or never."
Lloyd, 29, whose career has been in eclipse for three years - almost since the day he married Chris Evert in April 1979 - said he had contemplated retirement as recently as December.
"I just doubted I could win again," he said. "A lot of people had belief in me, but I didn't."
One person who believed in him was his wife, who knows what it takes to win. John Lloyd said that she helped restore his motivation and that he was now willing to do whatever it takes, both physically and mentally, to restore
himself to respectability on the circuit.
Higueras is a clay-court specialist, but he did win a hard-court tournament in Palm Springs, Calif., this year.
"So he is by no means a mug on this surface," Lloyd said.
Higueras was not the only seed to fall on a day of brilliant sunshine, but generally dull tennis. Barbara Potter, the 11th seed among the women and a quarterfinalist this year at Wimbledon, lost to Lisa Bonder, 7-5, 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-5), and 13th-seeded Claudia Kohde-Kilsch of West Germany was beaten by Bonnie Gadusek, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.
In an evening match, sixth-seeded Guillermo Vilas of Argentina outlasted Tom Cain in five sets and 3 hours, 40 minutes, winning by 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. Cain had Vilas in trouble before falling and twisting his left ankle with the score 1-1 and deuce in the final set. He continued to play, but his movement was severely hampered for the remainder of the match.
Earlier in the day, Gene Mayer and Eliot Teltscher, the 11th- and 14th- seeded men, respectively, had likewise survived five-set encounters with unseeded players. Third-seeded Jimmy Connors had no such difficulty, rolling over Thomas Hogstedt of Sweden, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, while Tim Mayotte and Stan Smith, each unseeded, came out on the short end of rain-delayed matches carried over from Wednesday night.
Smith lost to John Sadri, Mayotte to Brian Gottfried, who had high praise for his next opponent, Sweden's 19-year-old Mats Wilander.
"I played him in Stockholm, when he was about 11," joked Gottfried, who is 31, "and I won, 7-5, in the third set."
Then Gottfried added drily, "I thought then that he might be a pretty good player someday."
Yesterday's display of bad temper was produced by Australia's Pat Cash in his four-set victory over Glenn Michibata of Canada. Cash twice threw his racket and later incurred the wrath of the fans, whom he saluted at the end of the match by showing them a half-moon (that is, he kept his tennis shorts on). He was later fined $1,250 for his antics.
In the women's draw, No. 1 seed Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger (No. 3) and Australia's Wendy Turnbull (No. 6) and Hungary's Andrea Temesvari (No. 9) each advanced with a straight-set victory.
Temesvari, 17, eliminated Britain's Virginia Wade, who was competing in the women's singles for a record 19th time, 6-2, 6-3.
Canadian teenager Carling Bassett rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the final set to beat Lea Antonoplis, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3, to reach the second round.
Meanwhile, Australian Pat Cash was fined a total of $1,250 for three offenses during a 6-4, 1-6, 7-6, 6-4 second-round victory over Glen Michibata. Cash was fined $750 for twice throwing his racket and was assessed another $500 when he bent over showed his rear to the crowd at the end of the match.
Navratilova, who is seeking her first Open championship in 11 tries, pronounced herself physically fit and not jinxed by past failures here after crushing Emilse Raponi Longo of Argentina, 6-1, 6-0.
"I just hope," she said, "that no bug will bite me or a car run over me."
Neither bugs nor cars have been worries for Britain's John Lloyd, who in 1978 was ranked 23d in the world but two years later had plummeted to No. 356.
"The only problem was me," Lloyd said. "My motivation wasn't there. I didn't work very hard."
If Lloyd's career was on the downturn when he was dating Chris Evert, the bottom really fell out after their highly publicized marriage. He played like a dim beacon lost in the bright glow cast by his wife, who, unlike John, has never accepted losing, much less courted it.
"He's been happy the last three or four years," Evert Lloyd said of her husband, "but his career hasn't been important to him. He's been happy with the marriage, content to come to matches with me. He hasn't been hungry enough to be a winner."
John Lloyd became known as a nice guy who almost always finished last. With his low ranking, he was forced to qualify for tournaments when he wasn't accorded a wild-card entry - a free pass into the main draw awarded by a tournament director.
"I would get through the qualifying, get to the first round and become nervous and lose," Lloyd said.
He estimated that he had lost 17 first-round matches in the last year.
Lloyd said that he had thought about quitting "about 100 times," most recently in Australia last December, when he was having problems with atrophied muscles in his upper right arm.
"I was very close to dropping it away," he said.
He went to see the Australian Davis Cup trainer, who told him that, unless he did some serious weight and rehabilitative work, he would require an operation. That assessment hit him like a freight train.
"I knew it was now or never," he said, "and I realized I may not be able to make my own decision about when to stop, that it would be made for me with this injury."
He did the work to build up his arm and get into shape, but miracles are sometimes slow to occur. He lost six straight first-round matches this year, culminating in a collapse against Craig Miller at Wimbledon after he had built a lead of two sets to one.
That match revealed Lloyd's real problem: He didn't believe he could win.
"When he's given up in matches mentally, that's when I've gotten upset," his wife said. "I don't care if he loses, as long as he tries. It's been frustrating for me to watch all that talent go to waste."
Carrying a ranking of 272, Lloyd received one of the eight wild cards into the Open, and he knew that tournament officials could be criticized for choosing him.
"I wanted to justify the wild card," Lloyd said. "It was like a Christmas present."
Last week, he went to Amelia Island, Fla., and drilled rigorously four hours a day, in 95-degree heat, with his wife, coach Dennis Ralston and other players.
"I worked my hardest ever, I think," he said.
Lloyd beat Bernard Mitton of South Africa in the first round here and looked sharp against Higueras. More important, he got through the kind of crisis that had been doing him in.
Serving for the match at 5-3 yesterday, he let the game slip away. On the sidelines, his wife closed her eyes as Ralston yelled encouragement.
"I said to myself, 'C'mon, you worked too hard. Don't let him (Higueras) get back in,' " Lloyd said.
He also struggled to identify an alien emotion that turned out to be confidence.
"I still felt I would win," he said.
Three games later, breaking Higueras' serve, he did win.