John Lloyd has discovered that taking legal steroids and lifting weights can strengthen the mind as well as the body. The hours spent in the back room of a suburban house on Kooyong road over the past two weeks paid off handsomely for the British No 1 in the third round of the Australian Open yesterday when he defeated the Swiss Davis cup player, Jakob Hlasek, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Lloyd had to scratch out a victory from two sets down when the pair met in the Davis Cup at Eastbourne two months ago. But this was another world. A bright Australian sun blazed down out of the clearest Melbourne skies we have seen all week and the outcome of the match seemed set after the first few games.
‘It may sound silly but the work I have been doing at Stan Nicholes’s gym has made me so much stronger mentally,’ Lloyd said. ‘I’ve also been working out, which helps build muscle mass. It’s hard to describe the feeling but when you throw up the ball to serve on a big point you feel so strong physically that it overcomes your nerves.’
Both Nicholes, a former champion weightlifter who used to train Lew Hoad and Margaret Court amongst others, and coach Bob Brett warned Lloyed against lapsing into those negative moments that have marred his play so often in the past.
‘Didn’t he play well?’ Chris Lloyd enthused as we walked back from Court three through the record-breaking crowds that packed Kooyong all day. ‘He’s just so talented. He can do so many things with the ball. When was the last British player with as much natural ability as John?’
Mrs Lloyd herself reached the last eight with a routine win over Diane Balestrat. Lloyd incidentally has a reasonable chance of reaching the quarter-finals himself as his next opponent will be the Swede Joakim Nystrom – a fine player but beatable on grass.
It was a Swedish girl who created the biggest upset of the day. Caterina Lindqvist, currently ranked 14th on the WTA computer, defended Pam Shriver, the world No. 4, in stunning fashion after the tall American girl had led by a set and 3-1 in the second.
Britain’s last survivors in the women’s singles found the path to the last eight too steep. Jo Durie began well against the powerful Claudia Kohde-Kilsch but as soon as the West German girl began finding her length on the passing shot Miss Durie looked lost and went down 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Ann Hobbs played a great deal better than her 6-3, 6-1 loss to Martina Navratilova suggests. The improvement in Miss Hobbs game have been evident this week and she kept Miss Navaratilova on her toes for much of the first set. Virgina Wade’s 6-2, 7-6 defeat by Hana Mandlikova on Saturday prompted her to announce her retirement from singles tournaments. ‘I am quite satisfied about going out on that note’, the 40-year-old former Wimbledon champion said.
The top men’s seeds are both so disgusted with the playing conditions that they have sunk into a state of sullen resignation. There were moments when John McEnroe barely seemed to care in his win-over Nduka Odizor. Ivan Lendl beat Ben Testerman, a semi-finalist here last year, in four sets.