The umbrellas were raised Friday at Wimbledon to perform a very untraditional function: shields against a sun that heated Center Court to a record 110 degrees and fried the lawns of the overused and underprotected outer courts.
The players who couldn't stand the smolder _ like Britain's Shirli-Ann Siddall, who was carried from her mixed doubles match on a stretcher after fainting from the heat _ didn't advance. The players who survived complained of being drained. And the grass, pampered for 50 weeks but subjected to cruel and unusual punishment for these two, continued to die quietly.
Although it seemed foolhardy to spend extra time in the outdoor workplace, 14th-seeded Todd Martin and 45th-ranked Aaron Krickstein each toiled for more than three hours before emerging as the victors of separate five-setters.
Pete Sampras swept to a four-set victory over fellow Tampa resident Jared Palmer. Sampras recovered after losing the first set and proceeded to overwhelm Palmer 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
Martin, the only man left among the lower eight seeded players, dueled with Derrick Rostagno for three hours, six 6 minutes on Court 14 before a 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory that sent him into the Round of 16 against fourth-seeded Goran Ivanisevic.
According to Rostagno, whose ranking has slipped to 303 in the course of his comeback from an elbow injury that sidelined him for 18 months, the court was in worse shape than either of the players.
"The court was miserable; it wasn't conducive to tennis," said the Californian, who twice fell after losing his footing. "There were blotches of slow and blotches of fast."
Rostagno dropped his racket and staggered toward the net after being tricked on the fourth match point by Martin's strangely launched backhand half-volley.
"It was hard to end the match that way," said Rostagno, unsure whether the ball also struck the ground just after Martin reached down to scoop it off the dirt, "but to say I would have won if I'd won that point would be far-fetched."
Both Martin, who was helped by his 21 aces, and Rostagno, who was hurt by 11 double faults, thought the court should have received an extra drink of water _ or one fewer mowing _ before they attempted to play on it.
"Whoever tried to do something to the balls didn't do a good job because it's no slower, and until they stop cutting the grass shorter and shorter, it's always going to be fast," Martin said. "In my little lawn-mowing experience that I have, the shorter you cut it, the easier it dies."
And the longer 93rd-ranked Thomas Carbonell played against Krickstein, the undisputed maestro of five-set marathons, the less chance the Spaniard had of capitalizing on his 2-1 set advantage or his 27 aces. Krickstein ended with a 6-7 (2-7), 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory in the three-hour, 15-minute slugfest and improved his record in five-setters to 27-7.
"I never try to get down by two sets or by 2-1," Krickstein said. "It's not exactly prolonging my career by playing four hours all the time. But I did feel like I was going to wear the guy down. In best-of-five sets, it's not how you start, it's how you finish.
"It's the hottest day I can ever remember here, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tired at the end, but by the fifth set he was so tired he couldn't serve."
"I hope it stays just as hot," added Krickstein, who was weaned on Florida humidity during his Bollettieri Tennis Academy days in Bradenton and next faces sixth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia.
Zina Garrison Jackson, whose finest hour came here in 1990 when she reached her first and only Grand Slam final, played her 14th and final Wimbledon singles match.
Garrison later said she put up little fight in her 6-1, 6-2 loss to second-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, the player she defeated in the fourth round here last year.
"I didn't play well," said the Texan, who intends to perform her swan song at this year's U.S. Open.
Another American, unseeded Chanda Rubin, lost by 6-2, 6-4 to 10th-seeded Anke Huber of Germany. Rubin set a tournament record with the 32-game third set she survived against Patricia Hy-Boulais in the previous round.
It was the hottest day of the year in London.
On some courts, ballboys held umbrellas over players' heads during changeovers to protect them from the broiling sun.