ROBERT EMMIYAN. SCOTT SIMPSON. The Toronto Blue Jays.... Peter Doohan? In this summer of unfamiliar ultralegends, it shouldn't be astonishing that Wimbledon would contribute its own. Boris Becker, the two-time defending champion, whose very essence had been defined by his invincibility at the All England Club, lost in the second round to an obscure Aussie who went to college at Arkansas and got to Wimbledon on a bus from his room at the Y.
The 6'3" Doohan, 26, from the blue-collar town of Newcastle, New South Wales, and ranked 70th in the world, concocted a series of first serves and first volleys to produce Friday's stunning 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 upset. In 1986, Doohan was 0 for 7. Not tournaments, matches. In a Wimbledon tune-up at Bristol this year, he lost to Paul Chamberlin (No. 235 if you're scoring on the ATP computer). And last week in the first round, Doohan barely got by the AAA playing pro Alex Antonitsch of Austria, 9-7 in the fifth set.
Meanwhile, Becker's mean old mentor, Ion Tiriac, had sent Boris's girlfriend, Bènèdicte Courtin, home to Monte Carlo. Sure enough, the Fleet Street rags had their angle after the Doohan victory: BONKED OUT; TOO MUCH SEX BEATS BIG BORIS. Even the game's esteemed doyen, Ted Tinling, said, "I would have let Bènèdicte stay. It does not do to interfere with natural forces."
Fact is, the champion lost because, having easily beaten the Aussie at Queens two weeks before, Boom Boom didn't take Doom Doohan seriously enough. "I kept telling myself he is not a Lendl or a Leconte," Becker said after the match. "He can't keep volleying like this. He'll crack just once, and then it will be easy."
July 5, 1987
But Doohan never did. By the fourth set Becker was cursing the sun and railing at the umpire. "Stop making mistakes," he said. "I warn you." Once Becker even whacked the net-rushing Doohan in the shoulder with a vicious forehand. Nothing worked. Becker reached break point 11 times. He converted only once.
Before returning to his $17-a-night room at the Kingston Y, Doohan stopped by the players' annex locker room—essentially a Nobodies' Home—and received a standing ovation from the dregs of the draw. "A victory for locker room 2," said Larry Scott, the Harvard grad who lasted to the second round. Or as long as Becker.
"I didn't lose a war, and nobody died," the always engaging Boom Boom confirmed before exiting his kingdom in a silver Bentley amid a throng of screaming schoolgirls. "Basically, I just lost a tennis match."