WASHINGTON -- Many players believed, before they came to Washington, that the summer heat would be an important factor in their play this week at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.
Stefan Edberg knew the heat -- which reached 100 degrees on stadium court at noon -- could be a problem, but he didn't give it a chance to set in yesterday. In his first match after receiving a first-round bye, Edberg, the highest seed remaining in the tournament, defeated unseeded Alex Antonitsch in just 61 minutes, 6-2, 6-1.
"All I tried to do was play my game and get ahead of him," Edberg said. "Things worked out better than I expected. It was quite an easy match. At the moment I'm in physically good enough shape to be out in this weather."
The weather didn't bother Edberg, but it may have had an effect on attendance. Only 3,903 showed up to see his match.
After getting knocked out in the first round of the French Open and the second round of Wimbledon, Edberg took some time off to analyze his game and be with his family. A trip to the beach in southern England helped him relax and practice helped cure some inconsistencies.
Like many competitors here, Edberg is using this tournament as preparation for the U.S. Open in late August.
"I lost my rhythm, lost track a little bit," Edberg said. "Not having played well, I needed a tournament to play in. Coming here was perfect. For the past two weeks I've been working, getting back slowly."
Edberg looked nothing like a man who was working on a comeback. He left Antonitsch flailing, chasing after serves that topped off at 113 mph.
Edberg has been on the tour since 1982 and since then has won six Grand Slam titles.
"It's not my main goal to get back to No. 1," Edberg said.
"Of course, it's possible, but it's so far-fetched. I'm still good enough to win tournaments, but to get back to No. 1 like Pete Sampras is pretty tough."
Edberg's next match is this afternoon against 15th seed Jonathan Stark.
Top-seeded doubles player Byron Black defeated third-seeded Wayne Ferreira, 6-7, 6-4, 6-1.
"It was really hot and humid, especially in the first set," Black said. "It sounded like he was a bit sick."
Ferreira, suffering from flu-like symptoms, left the site to see a doctor.
In other stadium court matches yesterday, David Wheaton upset No. 9 MaliVai Washington, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Mats Wilander defeated Jonas Bjorkman, 6-3, 6-2. Last night, No. 7 seed Ivan Lendl topped Oliver Gross, 6-2, 6-4. In doubles play, Jim Grabb and Richey Reneberg defeated Paul Goldstein and Scott Humphries, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.