Women's singles title remains up for grabs

June 24, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England -- The women's draw at Wimbledon is wide-open, and everyone from Martina Navratilova to her old doubles partner Pam Shriver is taking aim at what could be.

Yesterday, Navratilova, the No. 4 seed, routed Sandra Cecchini, 6-2, 6-0, in their second-round match.

And Shriver, unseeded in singles, turned in something of a repeat performance of her three-set first-round match, by beating Rachel McQuillan, 5-7, 6-2, 8-6, to go into the third round against Florencia Labat.

Navratilova will have only a doubles match today, and Shriver will pull double duty, playing Labat in singles at noon and following that with a doubles match.

"There are so many mysteries on the tour right now," said Shriver. "I guess, because Conchita [Martinez] is No. 3 in the world, she's considered a favorite and Arantxa [Sanchez Vicario] has proven she can win in pressure situations, but I think I have to pick Martina over Arantxa, because she's done it here nine times."

Shriver described what's to come over the next 10 days as a "good character test."

"It's all going to come down to a lot of little tests," Shriver said. "Whether it's Martina or a breakthrough for Lindsay [Davenport] or Shriver, there aren't going to be any asterisks by our names because Steffi [Graf] isn't here."

Shriver said she doesn't consider the absence of Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati as significant.

Free racket

At the end of Navratilova's match, she looked around for a child to give her racket to and found none.

"Then Sandra said she'd like to have it and I gave it to her," Navratilova said. "It was sweet that she asked me for it. I think her back hurt her today and she couldn't serve. But we both enjoyed being out there."

Shelton wins again

Qualifier Bryan Shelton, who upset No. 2 seed Michael Stich, struggled early in his second-round match yesterday, but took control late and advanced over Karim Alami, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 6-7 (9-7), 6-2.

"Mentally, it was tough for me to come back today," Shelton said. "I really wanted to get the job done as quickly as I could . . . [but] it was just really hard for me to stay focused for the whole five sets."

Speaking out

Navratilova has never been shy about speaking her mind, so when she was asked about the O.J. Simpson case, in terms of domestic violence, she didn't hold back.

"We have to keep the husband and the human being totally apart from the superstar sports athlete," she said. "Just because you're a superstar doesn't mean you're a wonderful human being. Something went very, very wrong. Whether he did it or not, the fact is he used to beat his wife up. That goes on a lot.

"It's a bizarre case, but the media seems to protect the male athletes a lot more than the women athletes. In 1989, it was hush-hush when he got convicted of beating his wife. It was no big deal. Like imagine if I had done that to another human being. It wouldn't be hush-hush.

"But the male athletes, when they do something wrong, it's 'Oh, no big deal.' It's like they get convicted of drunken driving or hitting somebody, it's like no big deal because it happens all the time."

Becker, Ivanisevic escape

While seeded players were falling all around, No. 4 seed Goran Ivanisevic needed just three sets to beat Alexander Mronz, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1. And No. 7 Boris Becker won, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, 6-4, over qualifier Arne Thoms.

"I think, in the first set, he felt the influence of all the upsets," said Becker. "He should have won the first set. He had more chances than I did. But after that, I got my timing back and he started to play not as good. But the first set he should have won -- and if he had, then what?"

Bruguera survives

Even though French Open champion Sergi Bruguera is seeded No. 8 he was not expected to survive here against Patrick Rafter yesterday.

Bruguera had embarrassed Rafter on clay at the French. Rafter was supposed to return the favor here, because the clay-court specialist hadn't played on grass at Wimbledon in four years and he had never gone beyond the second round.

But after a casual start, Bruguera got serious.

The match stretched over four hours and 21 minutes and though Rafter gave his all -- to the point of suffering leg cramps in the final game -- Bruguera finally pulled off the win in the 24th game of the fifth set, 7-6, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 13-11.

"I have no strategy," Bruguera said after saving two match points in the 22nd game, breaking Rafter in the 23rd and serving out the match.

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