Late in the afternoon, some sunshine splashed across Centre Court. It had been a darkened arena most of the day, as often covered by tarps as by clouds. But finally brightened, it produced one of those moments that seem to make this peculiar fortnight worthwhile: Stefan Edberg, standing at the net, daring Boris Becker to pass him, and then, the match point won, pitching backward onto the grass.
The Wimbledon tennis championships, with their special tribulations, have a way of converting stoic athletes into spontaneous creatures. Last year a man scampered up the stands after winning match point, ignoring the customs imposed by royalty, or whoever runs this event. This year a particularly bland young fellow was reduced to a wandering, grinning fool. Edberg, expressionless this tournament and perhaps much of his 22 years, left his racket behind at the net and, smiling helplessly, walked over to the umpire's chair in a kind of stupor.And so another man, surviving a draw of 128 tennis players and a year's worth of weather in a day, was happily discombobulated. Poor Edberg: the Wimbledon photographers even got him to kiss the trophy for them. About nine times.
Edberg, seeded third, had earned his place in the sun. He had derailed that big West German locomotive, Boris Becker, with little trouble. The match took two days to play, but the time had more to do with available sunlight than difficulty. Edberg, with a gathering momentum, beat a two-time Wimbledon champion, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2. Toward the end, to tell you the truth, the only real tension was whether rain would once more interrupt play.
To give you an idea, Becker had a break point on Edberg way back in the second set, failed to get it and never threatened the Swede's serve again.
Nor did the weather. The match had begun Sunday but was halted with Edberg leading, 3-2, in the first set.
Monday's skies looked no friendlier and when the players returned, Edberg having just eaten a big lunch (`unlucky," he shrugged), it wasn't for long. They got in 16 more minutes of tennis, Becker breaking Ed berg's serve once, but failing to break it a second time on set point. Then, they were chased back to the locker room by another downpour, Becker leading, 5-4.
The next time they came back, it was to stay. Becker's bolts from serve quickly gave him the first set, 6-4.
But after that, Becker's serve began to retreat just as the thunderheads would. Edberg returned everything and then, on his own serve, cut Becker down from the net. From there he volleyed as he never had before, reaching everything and dumping it beyond Becker's considerable reach.
Becker, though seeded sixth, had been the probable winner going in. Just 20, he seemed entirely back to the form that had won him his 1985 and 1986 Wimbledons. He didn't lose a set until he got to his semifinal match with top-seeded Ivan Lendl. He had played the tournament's best tennis, and maybe even its best players. Before Lendl, he had dispatched of defending champion Pat Cash with a delightful ease.
Perhaps he had played too much good tennis and too many good players. "When I finally played him," Becker said later, "I had the feeling that I had been here already too many days." Because of on-and-off rain, none of the doubles championships were decided until Monday.
In men's competition, Ken Flach and Robert Seguso beat Anders Jarryd of Sweden and John Fitzgerald of Australia, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, in a match that was spread over three days because of rain delays.
In women's doubles, Steffi Graf of West Germany to her women's singles title as she and Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina held off two match points to 12-10.
In mixed doubles, Sherwood Stewart and Zina Garrison defeated Kelly Jones and Gretchen Magers, 6-1, 7-6.