Tennis: Wimbledon - Smith waits on doctor as British girls go out
Friday 26 June 1998
Smith, the 26-year-old British No 1, is due to meet the former champion and eighth seed Conchita Martinez in the third round today although she finished on crutches after beating Argentina's Mariana Diaz Oliva on Wednesday night.
During the game she heard a loud crack and felt a shooting pain through her left foot. An X-ray revealed nothing although she was still limping in the competitors' room yesterday. "I don't know if I'll be fit," she said. "I'll have to see in the morning." At least there is some hope, but for Cross and Latimer their Wimbledon came to a halt yesterday even if the process was elongated by the on-off nature of the play. The more disappointed of the pair will be Cross, who had suggested she might fight back against Thailand's world No 42 Tamarine Tanasugarn.
Cross, who had match point against Iva Majoli in the third round last year, had a 4-2 lead in the second set, but the promising position was lost quickly when she took to the court for the third time, going down 6-2, 7-5.
It was not hard to see why Cross has found it hard to reach the elite 100. She has talent, but the 24-year-old from Exeter does not have height, an essential element in the modern women's game. At 5ft 4in she is dwarfed by the leviathans at the top who are at least three inches taller.
Not that Tanasugarn exactly towered over Croft, it was only when the tracksuits came off that you began to fear for the home prospects. The Thai girl had shoulders that could have propped a rugby scrum. It was not hard to see who would have the weight and power advantage.
The first point confirmed that as Tanasugarn's thumping drive down the line crashed into Cross's flimsy backhand. "I think I know what's going to happen here," someone said in the crowd, and when the score was 3- 0 within minutes you feared for her. "I don't know why, but I started cold," Cross said. "It was the opposite in my first-round match. There's no pattern."
At that stage the strongest element in her game was the withering stare she had given a lineswoman, but she had managed to break back to trail 3-2 when rain stopped her.
The same happened when she took to the court again. Cross had risked taking lunch and began sluggishly, Tanasugarn took the first set and then overcame her opponent's resurgence after another break.
"There was not much between us," Cross said. "The difference is that I can only play at that level in patches, she sustained it for the whole match. I have to build my level of consistency."
Latimer was not looking to build anything, just keep the damage to the bare minimum when she went 5-0 down to the world No 26, Sabine Appelmans, who halted one of Steffi Graf's comebacks earlier this year. She had begun brightly, going 40-15 up in the first game, but the rain came as blessed relief, not an irksome irritation.
"I wasn't nervous," the 20- year-old from Norwich said, "it was just that I hadn't met someone who hits the ball so clean and so deep. I felt quite good when I got on court, but when we came off my coach told me to take more risks. The way I was playing I wasn't going to get anywhere."
Latimer, who was in her first senior Wimbledon, managed to avoid a whitewash in the first set and then came back strongly at Appelmans after a second interruption, breaking the Belgian once and threatening her opponent's serve again before she succumbed 6-1, 6-4.
"She's 225 places above me so there wasn't any pressure," Latimer said. "Now I know what it takes to get near the top. It's been a good learning experience for me."
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