NEW YORK — Alexander Volkov shocked top-ranked Stefan Edberg today, knocking him out of the U.S. Open and handing the Swede his second first-round loss in a Grand Slam tournament this year.
The Soviet left-hander defeated Edberg, the Wimbledon champion, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.
It was the first time the top men's seed had been eliminated in the first round at the U.S. Open since 1971 when Jan Kodes defeated John Newcombe.
For the 23-year-old Volkov, a member of the Soviet Davis Cup team and the 1988 Olympic squad, it was his biggest victory. Last year, Volkov reached the third round of the U.S. Open.
"I practiced very well the past few weeks and I was ready to play," Volkov, ranked 52nd in the world, said. "Then I saw the draw and I said, 'Ohhhh.' But you see, anything can happen."
Two former champions were victorious today.
Second-seeded Martina Navratilova, seeking her fifth singles title, defeated Argentina's Federica Haumuller 6-4, 6-0 in 50 minutes, while third-seeded Ivan Lendl roared past Canada's Martin Laurendeau 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours, seven minutes.
Earlier, Wimbledon women's finalist Zina Garrison easily moved into the second round by defeating Beate Reinstadler of Austria 6-1, 6-3.
For Edberg, though, the defeat continued his string of up-and-down performances in Grand Slam tournaments this year. He reached the final of the Australian Open in January, but was forced to retire in the third set with an injury.
Then, at the French Open in May, he was upset in the first round by Italy's Sergi Bruguera. He followed that by defeating Boris Becker to capture his second Wimbledon title in three years.
He was the No. 1 seed at two of the four Grand Slam tournaments--the French Open and U.S. Open--and failed to reach the second round in both. At Wimbledon, he was seeded behind Lendl, who skipped the French Open.
"I never felt comfortable hitting the ball," said Edberg, who saw his 21-match winning streak ended. "The courts were very, very quick. I've been working hard and I knew it would be tough, but I didn't come up to the standard I needed to win.
"I'll try to forget this and come back for the indoor season. It's a long time until the end of the year."
Volkov, still looking for his first professional tournament title, kept Edberg at bay with his searing serve and matched the Swede with six aces.
While facing Edberg's own vaunted service, Volkov returned well and took advantage of the Wimbledon champion's erratic groundstrokes. When Edberg pressed his attack to the net, Volkov often handcuffed the Swede with his passing shots.
Volkov broke Edberg's serve twice in the final set, in the fourth and the final games. The match ended when Edberg netted a forehand.
"He was slower than usual," Volkov said. "I saw it. I didn't think about it. If you do, it changes."
Before today's match, Volkov, the No. 52 player in the world, had made plans to play in a club tournament in Berlin at the end of the week.
"I am to play there Friday," he said. "I was to leave Wednesday. Maybe I will change my plans."
Garrison, the No. 4 seed from Houston, needed one hour, 23 minutes to capture her first-round battle under a bright sun at the National Tennis Center.
The right-hander, who ousted Chris Evert in her final match last year to reach the semifinals, dominated the first set by taking the net at every opportunity. She closed out the victory when she brought her opponent to the net with a drop shot, then hit a perfect backhand lob.