'Positive' Washington heads into quarters Is first African-American to do so since Ashe in '75

Wimbledon notebook

July 03, 1996|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WIMBLEDON, England -- MaliVai Washington made a little history here yesterday afternoon, when he became the first African-American to advance into the men's quarterfinals at Wimbledon since Arthur Ashe in 1975.

Washington, 27, earned his spot with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Paul Haarhuis in a match delayed from Monday.

The year Ashe made the quarters, he won Wimbledon. Will Washington?

"I don't know," he said. "But I think I'm playing the best tennis I've ever played at Wimbledon, maybe the best tennis I've played on grass, and it's good, you know. It's good to be able to do it and I hope I can keep doing it."

It's not the first time Washington has followed Ashe's footsteps. In 1992, he became the first African-American since Ashe in 1979 to finish a season in the Top 20.

And while he has not always done well at Wimbledon, he adopted Ashe's positive philosophy before this tournament and arrived with a fresh outlook.

"I just decided that I wanted to play my game out there," he said. "I think beating David Wheaton and Pete [Sampras] at Hurlingham before this tournament definitely did a little something to my confidence. Pete's the greatest grass court player in the world. So I just decided to ditch my negative attitude, stop feeling sorry for myself and just be real positive."

Washington will face another surprise quarterfinalist, Alexander Radulescu, who beat Neville Godwin, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4.

"I think I'm dreaming," Radulescu said. "I hope nobody wakes me up. It's just fantastic! I was the last man into the tournament. The last man. And now I am here. I am dreaming. It must be so."

He isn't dreaming any more than Washington or Richard Krajicek, who was left unseeded by the seeding committee despite his No. 13 world ranking.

Krajicek defeated No. 10 seed Michael Stich, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, to join today's men's quarterfinals. No. 13 seed Todd Martin upheld the honor of seeds in the lower half of the draw, beating Thomas Johansson, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.

Double, double good

After not playing for 4 1/2 days, Pam Shriver and her doubles partners were ready yesterday.

In the early afternoon, Shriver and Ros Nidefier combined for a 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4, victory over the seventh-seeded team of Lori McNeil and Nathalie Tauziat.

In the late afternoon, she and Pat Galbraith overcame a loss of serve in the first set to force a tiebreaker and won in two straight over Michael Tebbutt and Kristine Radford, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.

"Doubles for me is so much easier to know exactly what you're supposed to be doing at this point in my career," said Shriver. "It's still stressful, but not as much, and I'm happy for the company."

Shriver and pals will be at it again today.

Sampras on top of things

Top seed Sampras is sailing along, in more ways than one. Yesterday, he expected a tougher match with Cedric Pioline, but playing what he called "his best match of the fortnight, so far," he won, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

The outcome of his match with a ball box in the middle of the second set was a lot iffier.

"I had only one place to go and that was up, over the chair and I landed on the ball -- whatever you call it, it's the think where they hold the balls, the ball box, I guess," he said of his efforts to catch up to a Pioline shot.

"I was looking for some place to land, and unfortunately I hit the box and kind of tweaked my back a little bit, but it's not too bad."

Sampras won 11 straight points after that.

"I guess it wasn't too bad," he said. "But it was a little bit of a scary situation there."

Vampire of London?

An observant reporter asked No. 1 seed Steffi Graf about a reddish mark on her neck.

"An injury?" she was asked.

"No, no injuries," she said.

"Vampires?" came a query.

"Vampires, yes, exactly," she grinned, ducking behind her long blond hair.

A clattering racket

No. 3 seed Byron Black and doubles partner Grant Connell turned disaster into victory in their match against No. 13 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marc Goellner.

Kafelnikov blasted a forehand down the middle for break point, with the match standing at 5-5 in the fifth. Lose the point, and almost certainly lose the match.

Black and Connell both dove for the middle of the court. Their rackets clattered together. The ball hit something, skimmed the tape and dropped, a winner, into the opposition's court.

"Whose racket hit it?" asked Black, as the two sat on the next change of ends.

"I have no idea," said Connell.

They didn't care. They won, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-7 (7-2), 9-7.

Going for 20

Martina Navratilova, trying to tie Billie Jean King for most Wimbledon titles at 20, moved into the second round of the mixed doubles with Jonathan Stark, posting a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over Andrew Kratzmann and Maria Lindstrom.

Pub Date: 7/03/96

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