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Connors Storms Off Court, Defaults Match : His Boca Raton Semifinal Against Lendl Ends in a Rage Over Line Call

February 22, 1986|United Press International

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Jimmy Connors, in a rage over a line call, refused to continue playing and defaulted his semifinal match against Ivan Lendl in the fifth set Friday at the $1.8-million Lipton International Players Championship tennis tournament.

Kendall Farrar, the chief of supervisors for the Men's International Professional Tennis Council, fined Connors an automatic $5,000 for "failure to complete a match--default." The fine was the maximum that can be levied for refusing to complete play.

Connors could be suspended for 21 days to a year and could be further fined up to $20,000 for his action surrounding the default, Farrar said.

Lendl will take on second-seeded Mats Wilander in the final Sunday for the $112,500 in first-place money. Wilander won his semifinal match over Stefan Edberg, 6-4, 1-0 (retired), when Edberg pulled out of the match, complaining of a strained stomach muscle.

Connors said of his default, which is believed to be the first of its kind involving top-ranked players: "You can only take so much. I'm out there giving my blood. I felt I was sticking up for my rights.

"All I want the guy (chair umpire Jeremy Shales) to do is pay attention. If he's paying attention on only one side of the court, that's not good enough. If there's incompetence out there, you get somebody competent to do the job."

With Connors trailing, 3-2, 30-love, in the fifth set, a slicing shot by Lendl at the baseline was ruled in, giving Lendl a 40-love lead. Connors charged Shales, who is from Middlesex, England, and argued that the shot was several inches long.

Shales refused to overrule the call and issued a delay-of-game warning, then a code violation against Connors. It was Connors' second code violation of the match and gave Lendl a 4-2 lead in the set.

Connors, who protested wildly, continued his refusal to play, yelling: "I won't play under these conditions--get the supervisor and referee out here." He was then issued a game penalty, giving Lendl a 5-2 advantage.

Farrar ran onto the court and told Connors to continue playing and that he had 90 seconds to do so before he would default the match.

The match was officially ruled 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, 2-6, 5-2 (default) in favor of the top-seeded Lendl. The victory was Lendl's eighth straight over Connors and tied their career series at 13-13.

Farrar defended the way Shales handled the dispute.

"I think the whole situation was handled entirely by the book," Farrar said.

M. Marshall Happer, the couincil's administrator, said he will decide within a week what steps, if any, will be taken against Connors.

Tournament chairman Butch Buchholz was upset with the default.

"I think it's really unfortunate," Buchholz said. "Obviously, you don't want to see a tennis match end like that. Jimmy is an emotional guy and he gives 110% every time he goes out on the court. He got emotionally upset. I don't think he was right, but he showed his emotions."

Both players protested more than six calls during the match. Connors drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct violation during the third set, and Lendl drew a ball-abuse violation in the second set.

"I think the umpire lost control of the match," Lendl said. "I'm always having trouble with that umpire. I don't like having Jeremy Shales call my match. I don't think he's consistent on his calls."

But he added: "You just don't go and default a match on a bad call."

Lendl said he thought Connors took the initial fifth-set code violation to get the crowd of 8,887 "pumped up." Lendl added that he was "very surprised" when the third-seeded Connors continued to refuse to play after that point.

The bizarre day of tennis came to an abrupt halt when Edberg, in pain because of a strained stomach muscle, cut short his semifinal match against Swedish countryman Wilander.

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