An afternoon phone call devastated the $315,000 Volvo tournament at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus Saturday and brought to full circle the bad luck that has plagued the event.
The call brought the news that top-seeded John McEnroe, who was to have played in Saturday night's 7:30 p.m. semifinal, was suffering from stomach flu and had defaulted.
Last week it was announced that Australia's Pat Cash would be unable to enter the tournament due to injury. Soon after that, Jimmy Connors was suspended (he had accumulated more than $7,500 in fines this year) and had to withdraw.
McEnroe's default means that Paul Annacone, of West Hampton, N.Y., will play in today's 4 p.m. final against Sweden's Stefan Edberg.
Tournament director Jack Kramer Kramer said Tatum O'Neal, with whom McEnroe lives, called tournament referee Don Wiley at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and asked that Dr. Omar Fareed be sent to examine McEnroe. Fareed is the tournament physician and longtime U.S. Davis Cup team doctor.
Fareed drove to McEnroe's Malibu home and at 7 p.m. called to say that McEnroe would have to default.
"His fever was over 100 degrees and he was very weak," Fareed reported.
When Kramer stood on court and announced McEnroe's withdrawal and that no ticket refunds would be made, he was loudly jeered by the estimated 6,500 fans.
Kramer was escorted by police through a throng demanding refunds at ticket windows and was booed when he made a similar announcement there.
Today's final had been sold out for a week and a half.
When asked his feeling on the turn of events, Annacone said: "I felt bad for the tournament and felt bad for the people who came out and expected him to (McEnroe) to play. I'm sorry he's not feeling well."
Annacone, 22, is ranked No. 27 in the world and is seeded eighth in the tournament. He advanced to the semifinals by upsetting third-seeded Scott Davis Friday night, 6-4, 6-2.
A former All-American from University of Tennessee, Annacone has a game similar to McEnroe's. He is an aggressive serve and volley player who likes to attack the net.
Edberg will go to the net, but it's more like he sneaks up on it. He tends to lull opponents into making mistakes rather than forcing them into errors.
Just as McEnroe's aggressive style forces opponents out of their game, so does Edberg's pace dictate the tempo of a match. He's not easily rattled.
Annacone and Edberg have never played each other.
In the afternoon semifinal, second-seeded Edberg defeated fourth-seeded Johan Kriek, 6-2, 6-3.
Edberg set the tone by breaking Kriek's serve in the first game of the first set.
"I started well," Edberg said. "He never really got started. I served well, I returned well, everything was better than before. I'm playing with much more confidence."
The Swede took a three-minute injury timeout after the third game of the second set. Edberg, 19, sat while tour trainer Todd Snyder massaged and manipulated his neck.
"It was a strained muscles, nothing serious," Edberg said. "I did it on a point. It only bothered me when I served."
One would not have known anything was wrong with his serve from the way he played Saturday. Edberg's deceptive 'kick serve' pops off the court and squirts up and away from the returner. Kriek said that Saturday he returned many of Edberg's serve at shoulder height.
"I've always served with a lot of kick, at least since I was 14," Edberg said. "I've been playing on clay and it's good to kick on clay, it give you more time."
Once Edberg got into his stride in the second set, there was little Kriek, who is ranked No. 15 in the world, could do.
"There's no way I was going to win playing like that," Kriek said. "There's nothing you can do if nothing works. I've been struggling since Wimbledon. It's nothing new for me to lose."
Kriek double-faulted five times, thus negating his serve and volley game.
In doubles action Saturday night, the team of Annacone-Christo Van Rensberg defeated Vijay Amritraj-John Lloyd, 7-6, 6-3. They will meet the team of Scott Davis-Robert Van't Hof in today's doubles final.
Davis and Van't Hof had reached the semifinal by defeating the team of Peter Fleming-John Fitzgerald Saturday afternoon, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).