WIMBLEDON, England — The Wimbledon dream ended for Molly Van Nostrand Wednesday.
One day after upsetting fourth-seeded Manuela Maleeva, the 19-year-old redhead from Brightwaters, N.Y., was eliminated from the tournament, losing to eighth-seeded Zina Garrison of Houston.
It might have gone otherwise.
Van Nostrand, a qualifier ranked 155th in the world, had Garrison on the run, having won the first set, 6-2, and leading the second, 3-1, up a service break.
All she needed was to win three more games in order to advance to today's semifinals and a meeting with defending champion Martina Navratilova.
Instead. . . .
"I think she realized where she was," said Garrison, who swept the next 11 games and the match, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Afterward, Van Nostrand admitted that she had begun to think about a possible victory. "It crept into my mind that it was getting close and I could win the match," she said.
"I didn't get tired, I just started missing. I don't think I concentrated as well in the second set as I had in the first. I was making errors, and that gave her more confidence.
"In the first set, I felt that I played well and she didn't. I knew she had to get better."
Garrison will have to get much better, and in a hurry. Today she takes on Navratilova, who fended off the challenge of her doubles partner Pam Shriver, 7-6, 6-3, in one of the best matches in the women's singles to date.
Navratilova, going for a sixth Wimbledon title, beat Garrison in the fourth round three years ago and is 9-0 against the former Wimbledon junior champion.
The other semifinal will match veteran Chris Evert Lloyd against surprising teen-ager Kathy Rinaldi.
Lloyd, who already has won the Australian and French championships this year, had little difficulty in ousting Barbara Potter, 6-2, 6-1.
"I think I'm playing better than I did at the French Open, and that's why my scores are better," said Lloyd, who has lost just 14 games in five matches en route to the semifinals.
"I enjoy the way I'm playing now. I can play from the back of the court, I'm hitting my groundstrokes well, serving well and volleying well."
Rinaldi, who has met Lloyd just twice--and lost each time--will be making her first appearance in the semifinals, having overcome seventh-seeded Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia in an odd match Wednesday, 6-1, 1-6, 6-1.
Rinaldi, ranked No. 16, has only one previous claim to Wimbledon fame. At the age of 14 years, 91 days, she became the youngest player ever to win a match at Wimbledon.
"It doesn't surprise me that she's there (in the semifinals)," Lloyd said. "She's going to give me a lot of work to do."
In the men's singles, the defeat of top-seeded John McEnroe by South African-born Kevin Curren, added to the earlier upset of No. 2 Ivan Lendl, has left Jimmy Connors apparently in a position to win a third Wimbledon title.
On Wednesday, Connors knocked out Chilean qualifier Ricardo Acuna, 6-1, 7-6, 6-2, to reach his 10th Wimbledon semifinal. The fact that defending champion McEnroe has been eliminated was no inspiration, Connors said.
"I have still got to go through with my part of the draw and win my matches," he said. "I feel I have played a little better each match. Today, I played better than yesterday, and I think I played very well yesterday."
Connors will meet Curren in one semifinal Friday, while the other will pit Sweden's Anders Jarryd against 17-year-old Boris Becker of West Germany.
Jarryd, seeded fifth, disposed of Switzerland's Heinz Gunthardt without much difficulty, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, to reach the final four of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career.
The hard-serving Becker, meanwhile, became the youngest player ever to reach the Wimbledon semifinals when he ousted Frenchman Henri Leconte, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.