WASHINGTON -- For Jeremy Bates, last night's 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 victory over John McEnroe in the second-round of the NationsBank Classic was "the highest point" of his life. For McEnroe, it closed a disappointing chapter in his ebbing career.
Four times McEnroe has played in this tournament at the William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center, and four times he has failed to get farther than the third round.
McEnroe, seeded fifth, was not the only seed to lose last night. No. 2 seed and two-time defending champion Andre Agassi dropped his match to Kevin Curren, 7-5, 6-4. Earlier, fourth seed Aaron Krickstein lost, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, to Guillaume Raoux of France.
Agassi attributed his loss to a letdown after winning the men's championship at Wimbledon.
"I don't think it helped to play here after being intoxicated for five straight days after Wimbledon," Agassi said. "It's like partying all night, then getting up and having a good day at the office. It's not possible, I don't think."
McEnroe was ahead 4-3 in the third set, serving at 15-15, when he became rattled. He sent a blurred rocket across the net. It looked like an ace, but the linesman called it out. McEnroe approached the umpire's chair and complained.
"I made a mistake," McEnroe said. "I thought it was a big point, and I let Jeremy see that it upset me."
When McEnroe finally served, Bates responded with a backhand passing shot that curved into the court at the last instant for a winner. Moments later it was break point. A cross-court volley evened the final set at 4-4, and Bates was about to dispatch McEnroe.
"The odds are slim and none that I'll ever be back," McEnroe said, after being upset by Bates, who is No. 92 on the computer rankings. "I really wish I had done better here through my career. You'd think over 15 or 16 years, I could have won it once. . . . I know I should have won this match, but I didn't."
Bates said: "I've looked up to John since I was very young. Really, it's the highest point in my life. I've missed playing him about four times before, because I lost or he did. I wondered if I'd ever play him."
In the afternoon, Krickstein and 115th-ranked Raoux battled in 107-degree heat. "He hit some pretty good serves at key times, and I didn't play too well in the third set on key points," Krickstein said. "I didn't return that well all day."
Krickstein was up a break at 4-3 in the first set, but could not capitalize. Raoux broke back, and Krickstein double-faulted at 6-5 on set point. Krickstein breezed through the second set, but Raoux served better in the third, getting the break he needed at 3-2.
While Krickstein was struggling, top seed Petr Korda was having his difficulties as well on center court. Playing Jimmy Brownof Hialeah, Fla., Korda fell behind a set and a break before winning, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Third seed Ivan Lendl beat 1991 NCAA champ Jared Palmer, 6-4, 6-1.