Hana Mandlikova, seeded 3 at the Open, had a difficult path till the Quarters, specifically versus American hope Lori Mac Neil in the 4th round where she had to fight till the last ball to win a very close match. In quarterfinals versus young star Carling Bassett, Hana couldn’t cope with her baseline shots and consistency, and went out in 2 sets.
It was a hair-raising afternoon for Hana Mandlikova. who defeated Pat Medrado, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, in the first round of the US Open
On the stadium court, Mandlikova had one of her mental walkabouts in the second set, though she came back to beat the 27-year-old Brazilian easily in the third.
Mandlikova, who has won five 1984 tournaments and is the only woman to beat Martina Navratilova this year (in Oakland in January), was asked about the possibility ot beating Navratilova again. “I think any serve-and-volleyer can push her.” said Mandlikova; “that’s all I can say.” When asked about overlooking Chris Evert Lloyd this year at Wimbledon (Mandlikova supposedly disregarded Evert Lloyd before the semifinals – and promptly lost), Mandlikova’s face clouded over. “I never said any of that,” she huffed. “The press made it up. Of maybe Chris made it up herself. I just want to try my best and do as well as I can here. “
The next two rounds, Hana played in the same manner that won her 5 Virginia Slims titles in 1984. She crushed Tine Scheuer-Larsen and Anne White, losing a total of four games in two matches.
Then came Lori McNeil, an improving but still unknown black college player. Lori has an agressive style like Hana, and in the fourth round, it worked better for Lori than for Mandlikova.
Nearly. There was that nightmarish adverb again: nearly. Lori McNeil, 20 years old, ranked 102d. . 11 months a pro. had nearly turned the US Open inside out with a verdict that would have been judged at least the upset of the year. Hadn’t Lori led, 6-3. 4-2. playing as well as she could imagine, while the mindless Mandlikova sprayed balls as though hunting birds in the trees that edge Court 16 at Flushing Meadow?
And while Hana’s father, ex-Olympic sprinter Willem Mandlik, warbled like a distraught cuckoo high in bleachers. As soon as Hana’s last backhand return fluttered past McNeil’s frozen racquet and touched down In a corner. Papa Mandlik chirped. “Ooooh. super! Kukee and me…” He gestured toward Hana’s gigantic coach. Jan Kukal. “Kukee and me play every point good – up here – but Hana? No . . . nothing.”
Perplexing to her followers. Mandlikova, who played lots of “no . . . nothing.” nevertheless stumbled into the quarterfinals. 3-6. 6-4. 6-2.
At 2-4 in the second, Mandlikova realized she was “in trouble” and reacted like a major talent by running four games. McNeil went shaky, losing her serve in four points to 4-4 and then to 4-6 by double faulting on the-last two points. McNeil could only pursue her attacking game well when she fell behind, 3-0, and seemed out of it. Mandlikova gagged when she got a lead, losing serve to 3-2.
Then, McNeil crumped again. It was the classic “good loss” and an. indication that Mandlikova was back in quixotic form after starting the year so favorably by ending Martina Navratilo-va’s 54-match win streak and rolling up five tournament victories herself. “I was not,” Hana understated, “at my best level.”
Luck wasn’t enough to coast Hana pasta convaleseing but eager Carling Bassett in the quarterfinals, Carling was just gettingover a cold following a long bout withmononucleosis, Nevertheless, her determination and skill gave an off-form Mandlikova trouble from which she could not recover
The first set was close, but at crucial points, Bassett made spectacular passing shots and frequently wrong-footed Hana, Mandlikova began taking more chances asthe match wore on, but they were not paying off. The 6-4,6-3 victory was Bassett’s biggest win to date. She actually attributed the six-week layoff and lack of practice to her fine performance.
“I knew Hana was playing tough matches during the week, and I went in there not thinking it was the quarter-finals,” said Bassett, echoing a theme she had touched upon earlier in the week, that of playing one match at a time regardless of the round. This was her fifth consecutive straight sets victory, her other victims being Elizabeth Sayers of Australia, Pascale Paradis of France, Mima Jausovec of Yugoslavia and Petra Delhees Jauch of Switzerland. “I was playing well all week so I kept myself really low key and didn’t think too much,” she continued. “I knew I had a good chance to get to the semis. I was playing real well in practice. I knew I had a chance and yet I wasn’t too confident about it.”
Bassett came out strong yesterday, playing the first match of the day in the nearly deserted main stadium at the National Tennis Centre. Mandlikova played her characteristic devil-may-care style and dug herself a hole by the second game as Bassett broke her serve. Then, after tying the set at three, and again at four, Mandlikova victimized herself with numerous unforced errors and poorly chosen shots, falling behind 5-4. In the 10th game, Bassett fell behind 0-30, then fought back as she had numerous times this week, finishing the set in 30 minutes with a passing winner into Mandlikova’s backhand side.
“It’s hard to know if it’s one of the best matches I’ve played because Hana doesn’t give you a groove,” Bassett explained. “I felt my passing shots were very good today; I don’t think I missed on too many. I was wrong-footing her a lot today.” Indeed, she had her Czech opponent guessing wrong, anticipating where Bassett would hit the ball, and time after time Bassett would catch her leaning the wrong way and hit the ball to precisely the spot Mandlikova had just vacated. “She was guessing a lot because I was passing her quite handily,” said Bassett, speaking as if she had just realized with certainty yesterday that she belongs among the elite of women’s tennis. “You have to guess a lot when that’s happening to you,” she continued, like a teacher telling a tennis class about what happens during a match when someone of high status plays well. In this case, she was talking about herself.
In the second set, Bassett took a 3-0 lead in games and then tightened up, Mandlikova narrowing the lead to 3-2. Down 0-30 in the potentially tying game, Bassett dug once again into her bag of tricks, winning four straight points and pulling ahead, 4-2. In the ninth game, she won the match with another passing shot.
“She did so many things well,” said her coach, Nick Bollettieri. “She moved well, she hit her passing shots well, she lobbed well, she did everything she had to do to win.” Mandlikova was not the only top seed upset yesterday; 13th-seeded Wendy Turnbull upset fourth-seeded PamShriver.
“There is no pressure on Carling,” a subdued Mandlikova said after being eliminated. “She wins, she loses, she doesn’t have to worry, her father has millions.”
Chris Evert-Lloyd beat Carling in semis to lose a very close finals versus Martina Navratilova.
EXTRACTS FROM “HANA” by Hana Mandlikova w/ Malcolm Mc Folley
At the Open I lost in the quarter finals to Canadian Carling Bassett. It was very difficult to avoid Martina at Flushing Meadow as we were using the same locker room. I was sitting on the floor, out of the tournament, and she was in a corner when it hit me that I could not go on much longer like this, it was making me unhappy.
Pam Shriver was also in the room and I had the urge to apologize to Martina in Czech, so as Pam would not understand what I was doing. But I could not make any move in front of anyone else and waited for Pam to leave. I walked towards Martina with my hand outstretched and said, in Czech, ‘Martina, I’m sorry. I was stupid and I hope that you can forgive me.’
I could see that she was relieved that I had shown the courage tosay sorry and we shook hands.“Hana”, ed. Arthur Barker, London, 1989
- For third-seeded Hana Mandlikova, who beat Pat Medrado, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. posing for the calendar taught her a little about makeup and a lot about high fashion. “Hana had never worn high heels before,” said WTA publicist Peggy Gossett. “It was pretty funny to see her walk around.”
- Killer Dog (K.D) Navratilova had some company in the locker room as she awaited Martina’s return one day. There was a shaggy white puppy that Hana Mandlikova had bought for her mother as a gift. It seems that K.D. didn’t like sharing her turf and chased the newcomer off with a high-pitched bark.
(Article compiled from : Inside Women’s Tennis, Bud Collins – The Boston Globe, The Vancouver Sun)