Mary Joe Fernandez surprised in straight sets

August 31, 1991|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Sun Staff Correspondent

NEW YORK -- Radka Zrubakova kept waiting for the real Mary Joe Fernandez to show up yesterday at the U.S. Open.

"I think she was playing weird all match, because she was making all the mistakes," Zrubakova said. "That is not very usual about her game. I expected her to play a little bit stronger."

But Fernandez, the No. 5 seed, was bothered by the heat and slowed down by a pulled left hip flexor. She could do little but stand around and watch as Zrubakova rubbed her out of the second round, 6-1, 6-2.

"I haven't played great or where I should be playing, but I thought I would be getting better after every match," said Fernandez, a 1990 Open semifinalist. "But it wasn't the case."

The Zrubakova-Fernandez match dominated the women's draw yesterday. As usual, the top players breezed through. No. 1 Monica Seles defeated Sara Gomer, 6-1, 6-4, No. 3 Gabriela Sabatini defeated Gretchen Magers, 6-3, 6-4, and No. 7 Jennifer Capriati defeated Patricia Hy, 6-1, 6-4.

Regina Rajchrtova upset No. 11 Katerina Maleeva, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. Gigi Fernandez defeated No. 13 Leila Meskhi, 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-2), tying the record for most games played in a women's match at the Open. In 1985, Steffi Graf needed three tie-breakers to defeat Pam Shriver.

Fernandez never even had a chance against Zrubakova.

"I was worried about outside factors," Fernandez said. "It was the heat. And then, you know I slipped a little bit and I was worried if it was my shoes. I was sweating too much."

Zrubakova, a 20-year-old baseliner from Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, is ranked No. 28 in the world. But she said she is prepared to move up after settling a two-year dispute with her father, Anton. A trainer for the Czech national soccer team, he insisted on guiding his daughter's career, despite a limited tennis background.

"He never played tennis, and that was what the fight was about," Zrubakova said. "I was trying to explain to him that he cannot coach a tennis player if he never played tennis."

The father and daughter have reached an agreement. He stays out of her career, and she practices with another hitting partner. The division of labor is working fine.

"This was the biggest win I've ever had," Zrubakova said. "But it wasn't as hard a match as I expected. I'm not as happy as if I had just had a real hard match. But I am very happy."

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