NAVRATILOVA CAPTURES TITLE IN HISTORIC FOUR-SET MATCH
Monday, March 24, 1986
Martina Navratilova overpowered Hana Mandlikova 6-2, 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 yesterday to capture the $500,000 Virginia Slims Championships in New York in the first women's tennis match to go more than three sets in 85 years.
The last women's match that lasted more than three sets was in July 1901, when Elizabeth Moore defeated Myrtle McAteer in five sets at Philadelphia. Although this is the third year of the best-of-five sets title match in this event, Navratilova won the first two years in three straight sets.
"It was quick," Navratilova said. "Emotionally, it was different. But we weren't out there that long. No long rallies."
The victory was worth $125,000 and brought Navratilova's earnings in the last week, including 1985 year-end bonuses, to $386,250. Mandlikova collected $60,000 yesterday and, combined with winning the doubles title Saturday, earned $117,500 for the week.
West Germany's Steffi Graf took third place, worth $30,000, when Chris Evert Lloyd withdrew from yesterday's scheduled match between the semifinal losers. The official explanation for her withdrawal was "fatigue," and she was awarded fourth place and $23,000.
However, instead of the $23,000 awarded to fourth place, she was given $18,000 - the difference between fourth and a quarterfinal loser - with the other $5,000 going to Pam Shriver, who played an exhibition against Graf before the title match.
Playing some of the finest tennis of her career, Navratilova was completely dominating in the first two sets as Mandlikova was able to hold her own serve only once.
"I don't know if I've ever played better," Navratilova said. "This was really a showcase for women's tennis and a showcase for me."
"That was the best she ever played against me," Mandlikova said. "I don't think I played my best, but you can't lift your game because she's playing very well. She won't let you lift your game."
Navratilova ripped through the second set in 17 minutes. Mandlikova, who beat Navratilova in the women's title match at the U.S. Open last September, was able to win only six points in the set.
Then, in a lapse of concentration, Navratilova began missing her first serve and Mandlikova was able to get into the match.
She broke Navratilova in the fourth game of the third set, and when she held her service in the fifth, she had a 4-1 lead. Mandlikova had a chance to close out the set in the eighth game, but Navratilova fought off four set points and finally held her own service with her sixth ace of the match.
Mandlikova held at 15, and, for the first time since 1901, the women were playing a fourth set.
"I felt great," Mandlikova said. "I lost the first two sets easily and I won the third. I was looking forward to the fourth set."
"I knew I didn't want to go five sets," Navratilova said. "She was playing better, but I didn't feel I was doing anything wrong. I just wanted to get ahead in the fourth set."
Navratilova began the fourth set by holding service at 30. In the third game, she fell behind 15-40 before delivering her seventh ace. A forehand cross-court volley brought her to deuce.
And although Mandlikova had another break point, Navratilova quickly closed the door on her opponent.
She broke Mandlikova in the fourth game at 15, but the right-hander came right back to take a 40-15 lead on Navratilova's serve. Again, the eventual winner held, making it 4-1 and the certain ending just a formality.
Navratilova raced through Mandlikova's serve in the sixth game, breaking at 15, then held at 30, fittingly closing out the match with her ninth ace of the day.
Ivan Lendl gave a good indication of his current dominance of men's tennis with an impressive 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of Jimmy Connors yesterday in the finals of the $315,000 Paine Webber Classic tournament at Fort Meyers, Fla.
The top-seeded Czechoslovakian picked up $50,000 for his fifth straight tournament victory. Connors, who hasn't won a tournament in 17 months, earned $25,000.
Lendl, the top-ranked player in the world, hasn't lost a match all year and has won 56 of his last 57 outings. He didn't lose a set in five matches at the Sonesta Sanibel Harbour Resort.
Lendl needed only 72 minutes to finish off Connors, who is ranked fourth in the world.
Connors, the touring pro for Sanibel Harbour, even had the home-court advantage, playing in a stadium named for him. But he didn't win a game after battling Lendl on even terms up to 2-2 in the first set.
After a close line call gave Lendl a service break in the fifth game, Connors didn't win another game the rest of the way.
"When he gets on top, he starts going for broke," said Connors, who has lost nine straight times to Lendl and now trails him 14-13 in career matchups. In the second set, Connors had two break points against Lendl's serve but couldn't win either. He only won six points on his own service.
Top-seeded Mats Wilander of Sweden defeated Broderick Dyke of Australia 6-2, 6-3 in the finals of the $315,000 Belgian Indoor Tennis Championship yesterday at Brussels, Belgium.