Wimbledon 97: Tarango keeps dark side under cover

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Jeff Tarango beat his temper in his return to Wimbledon but could not beat his first-round opponent yesterday.

The 29-year-old American stormed off court in the middle of a match two years ago and accused the chair umpire, Bruno Rebeuh, of favouritism. His wife, Benedicte, then slapped Rebeuh. The incident led to a fine and a one-year suspension from the Championship.

Tarango was on generally good behaviour yesterday, with only a few outbursts over line calls, as he lost to the French qualifier Rodolphe Gilbert 3- 6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-4.

The match was played on Court Four, apparently scheduled there because of its proximity to the office window of the head referee, Alan Mills.

Tarango's wife sat passively at courtside and said little, while his father, Bob, offered only mild encouragement.

In a match extended over two days after a rain delay, Tarango clashed with the umpire Wayne McKewan only on the second day. On the first - with play going well - he was even polite to the ball girls as he flicked them loose balls with his racket.

Yesterday, however, after losing the third set in a 7-0 tie-breaker, his frustration and disappointment began to show through.

"That's five overrules today against me," Tarango shouted on a disputed line call. "That's five, look it up in the computer."

He turned down interview requests after the match, but his father spoke for him.

"It was ugly what happened two years ago," Bob Tarango said. "It was unfortunate, one of those things that happens in the heat of battle in sports. Jeff and his wife are really great people, but Jeff is a person who wears his heart on his sleeve.

"I talked to him like any father would. I expect him to comport himself with integrity and character. The world has not seen the real Jeff...they've just seen his dark side."