Tennis / Wimbledon '92: McEnroe courts attention: Ian Tasker on the former Wimbledon champions who were looking for success in different quarters yesterday

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The Independent Online
AMID extraordinary scenes on Court One last night an epic doubles final between John McEnroe and Michael Stich and Jim Grabb and Richey Reneberg was halted at 9.27pm because of the dark with the fifth set tied at 13-13.

McEnroe, chasing the 17th Grand Slam title of his career, led the complaints when referee Alan Mills stepped on court to call it a day but they will all have to come back this morning when Wimbledon goes into a third week.

Wherever you looked yesterday McEnroe seemed to be in action - on Centre Court, out on Court Two, in the NBC commentary box during the main event and finally, in the men's doubles that had been in progress for four and a half hours when the curtain of darkness descended with the score at 5-7,

7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 13-13.

The two Wimbledon champions, unseeded as a pair, earlier had to complete a semi-final victory over Guy Forget and Jakob Hlasek on Court Two after they had been given notice to quit Centre Court so that Andre Agassi and Goran Ivanisevic could get started.

The German-American duo had not lost a set on their way to the final but the No 4 seeds pushed them all the way. McEnroe was given a code violation for racket abuse in the second set and Stich had to save two match points at 6-7 in the final set.

Meanwhile, McEnroe's former partner, Peter Fleming, with whom he won seven Grand Slam titles, picked up another Wimbledon crown, this time in the over- 35 doubles in tandem with another blast from the All England Club past, Stan Smith - 20 years to the day since he won the main prize by beating Ilie Nastase.

The women's doubles final featured the same four players who contested the 1991 final - Natalia Zvereva, Gigi Fernandez, Jana Novota and Larisa Savchenko- Neiland. However, in the interim 12 months, the partners had been swapped.

As Novotna walked off court after losing last year to the Soviet (as they were then) pair she told Fernandez that she was in the process of looking for a new partner. She did not have to look far for she was on the other side of the net - Savchenko-Neiland.

A few weeks later Zvereva learnt the bad news from her erstwhile partner. Stung, the spurned duo formed their own partnership and yesterday's 6-4, 6-1 defeat of the No 1 seeds, Novotna and Savchenko-Neiland, was sweet indeed.

Zvereva and Fernandez, seeded two, easily won their second Grand Slam triumph of the season - following up their victory at Roland Garros - Fernandez squealing with delight at the net after intercepting a service return to win the match.

'We expected it to be a tough match,' Fernandez said. 'They were the ones who didn't want to play with us, but we went in with more confidence as they hadn't won a Grand Slam and we won the French Open.'

Zvereva, the second pony-tailed blonde to be celebrating a Wimbledon crown, said: 'We really have fun together, more fun than with any other partner. It really meant something to beat Larisa.'

Savchenko-Neiland was not given much time to reflect on the wisdom, or otherwise, of her past decison because within half an hour of her defeat, she was back on court, partnering Cyril Suk in the mixed doubles semi-final and beating Bryan Shelton and Lori McNeil, 7-5, 6-4 to reach today's final where they will play Jacco Eltingh and Miriam Oremans.

Miles Maclagan, at 17 one of Britain's top juniors, was beaten 6-2, 6-4, in the semi-final of the boys' singles by the tall, big-serving American, Brian Dunn, who went on to lose the final against David Skoch, of Czechoslovakia, 6-4, 6-3. The girls' title went to Chanda Rubin, of the United States, who beat Laurence Coutois, of Belgium, 6-2, 7-5.

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