NAVRATILOVA, SHRIVER GAIN FINALS OF SLIMS TOURNAMENT
Monday, January 13, 1986
Top seeds Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver each defeated highly-ranked foes yesterday to advance to the finals of the $150,000 Virginia Slims of Washington (D.C.) tennis tournament.
Navratilova used a powerful serve and an imposing net game to beat Claudia Kohde-Kilsch of West Germany, fifth-ranked player in the world, 7-5, 6-3, and Shriver struggled before overcoming the baseline tactics of No. 7 Manuela Maleeva 6-3, 6-4.
Navratilova and Shriver, close friends who teamed to win 109 straight doubles matches, will play for the championship tonight.
Navratilova, the defending champion and seven-time titlist at Washington, has not lost a set in the tournament. Although she was tested in the first set against Kohde-Kilsch, Navratilova nevertheless needed only 65 minutes to become a finalist for the ninth time in 11 tries in the Washington tournament.
Kohde-Kilsch served unusually well, making about 80 percent of her first serves and recording no double faults.
"There's not much strategy in playing a serve-and-volleyer," said Navratilova. "You get the first serve in and get the first volley in. I don't play her any differently than I play Shriver or (Helena) Sukova."
In beating Kohde-Kilsch for the 14th time in 16 attempts, Navratilova never trailed and lost her serve only once.
That service break temporarily thrust Kohde-Kilsch, the third seed, back into the match. Serving for the first set with a 5-3 lead, Navratilova held a 30-15 advantage before losing the last three points and the game. The two each held serve before Navratilova captured the set when Kohde-Kilsch, serving at 5-6, watched as two Navratilova shots zipped past her and struck the line. Frustrated, Kohde-Kilsch lost the pivotal game and opening set by hitting a forehand into the net at 15-40.
"She was just a little bit luckier than I was," said Kohde-Kilsch, the world's fifth-ranked player. "Those two passing shots hit right on the line. Then in the second set, I had a chance to break her but was unlucky and didn't."
Kohde-Kilsch was referring to the third game, a 14-point marathon in which she had four break points but failed to capitalize. Navratilova eventually won the game and the set shortly after breaking serve in the eighth game.
"I should have won the set long before she could get back into it," Navratilova said. "With a bit of luck, it could have been 6-1 or 6-2."
Both players agreed that Navratilova's serve was the difference. In the first set, with the exception of the ninth game, Kohde-Kilsch could only manage three points off Navratilova's booming service.
In the second set, Navratilova got the only break she needed in the eighth game.
"Martina served very well and it was really hard to break her," Kohde-Kilsch said. "That was the key. Sometimes she doesn't serve as hard or as well. I lost my serve only once in the second set, but that was all she needed.
"I tried to attack her very much, more to her backhand. If she has one small weakness, it's her backhand passing shot," Kohde-Kilsch added.
Kohde-Kilsch also said Navratilova's net game was a factor. "She put a lot of pressure on me whenever she attacked the net," Kohde-Kilsch said. "That, and her serve, were too much to overcome."
Like Navratilova, Shriver, of Lutherville, Md., used a formidable serve- and-volley game to win her semifinal match. Although Maleeva passed Shriver from the baseline on several occasions, the majority of Shriver's ventures to the net proved successful.
Shriver, ranked No. 4 in the world and the tournament's second seed, notched the only service break of the first set when she blasted a volley at the net to take control, 5-3.
Shriver won the set by holding serve, earning the final point with a smash at the net. It was to be the second of seven straight games won by Shriver.
Maleeva, of Bulgaria, finally broke the string by winning her serve at love. After Shriver held serve to stretch her lead to 5-1, Maleeva rattled off three straight games, including her only service break of the night.
Shriver then held serve to end Maleeva's comeback and close out the match.
"My serve has really held up this week," said Shriver. "I'm really happy with that part of my game."
Although Shriver has not lost a set throughout the tournament, she will be a decided underdog against Navratilova, who has not lost to Shriver since the U.S. Open in 1982.
Heinz Gunthardt of Switzerland and Balazs Taroczy of Hungary won the $200,000 World Doubles Tennis Championship for a record third time yesterday, beating Australian Open champions Paul Annacone and Christo Van Rensburg in five sets in London.
Winners previously in 1982 and '83 and reigning Wimbledon doubles titlists, the European team won 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 6-4 in 3 1/2 hours on the Supreme surface at the Royal Albert Hall, earning the $72,000 first prize.
Gunthardt, 26, and Taroczy, 31, blunted the booming serve of Annacone, 22, of the United States, and slowed Van Rensburg, 23, of South Africa.
Annacone had 13 aces, but oddly, after 36 games without a service break, it was his serve that cracked.
In the fifth set, there wasn't a service break until Annacone faltered. Gunthardt produced a stunning service return, setting up an easy volley for his partner. Thus, the first break point of the match against Annacone was match point for his opponents.
Unseeded Mark Woodforde, a 20-year-old Australian, won his first Grand Prix tennis tournament yesterday when he defeated top-seeded American Bud Schultz 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the men's singles finals of the Benson and Hedges Open in Auckland, New Zealand. The winner collected $16,000.
The British team of Sarah Gomer and Annabel Croft posted decisive singles victories over the Swedish duo of Karolina Karllsson and Katarina Karllsson as Britain won the finals of a qualifying round of the women's European Tennis Championships in Loana, Italy.
However, both countries and Holland, which beat Italy for third place, advance into the final round of the women's championships which will be played in Baden, Switzerland, in November.
Six teams will contest the final round on a still to be decided date.
Gomer romped over Sweden's Karolina Karllsson in the first match 6-4, 6-1 and Croft then whipped Katarina Karllsson 6-3, 6-4.