Martina Navratilova, playing near the peak of her 1975 form, drubbed Francoise Durr, 6-1, 6-1, with a memorable display of power shotmaking yesterday and advanced to the semifinals of the $100,000 Virginia Slims of Washington tennis tournament.
Navratilova, the expatriate Czech who is seeded No. 3, was beaten by the seventh-seeded Durr by the identical scores the last time they played in the quarterfinals of the Colgate Inaugural at Palm Springs, Calif., in October.
This time the effervescent lefthander needed only 46 minutes to reverse the roles. Most of the people in what was to become a sell-out crowd of 5,000 at George Washington University's Smith Center had hardly settled into their seats before the slashing volleys, overheads and passing shots began.
Chris Evert, top-seeded defending champion, was nearly as decisive in bombing No. 5 seed Sue Barker, 6-1, 6-2, in 50 minutes. Barker had been expected to give a tough battle.
Evert plays Wendy Turnbill in the semifinals today at 5 p.m. at Capital Centre, scene of the final two rounds.
"I was really scared at first because last time she hit every line you could imagine," said Navratilova, winner of the Slims event here in 1975, a triumph that placed her among the top handful of players in the world.
Last year she faltered, failing to live up to the ambitious timetable her raw talent and the promise of the previous year had suggested. Now she has trimmed down 20 pounds to 145, a weight that she feels gives her great mobility without any sacrifice in strength and has gotten herself mentally and physically ready to play.
"Right at the beginning, Frankie hit some great passing shots.She started to hit the lines and I thought, "Here we go again," the 20-year-old Navratilova said.
The 34-year-old Durr, starting her last season as a tour regular, broke at 15 in the first game, but that was her first and last hurrah. first and last hurrah.
Navratilova broke right back after one deuce and ran off 11 straight games for a 6-1, 5-0 lead.
The crowd gave Durr a loud and sympathetic cheer as she ended the blitz by breaking Navratilova in the sixth game of the second set, forcing a lunging volley error with a cross-court backhand on her second break point.
But Navratilova broke again in the last game -- Durr never did hold her serve -- closing out the match after one deuce with three beautiful shots: a forehand down-the-line pass, a high backhand volley, and a backhand down-the-line pass. It was as if she was giving a final encore after a virtuoso performance.
In the third game of the second set, Durr ran wide but could not make a shot off a backhand volley that Navratilova had rifled. Exasperated, she said to a friend at courtside. "God, she does not miss a shot."
That was almost literally true.
Durr muttered epithets and self-deprecating remarks throughout the match, but as she said afterward, she didn't play poorly.
"I didn't make any silly shots, but she volleyed well. Her approach shots were excellent," said Durr. "She made a winner out of every shot I played. . .
She was much quicker today, too. She moved better than I've seen her in a long time.
"If Martina keeps playing like that she will give Chris a lot of trouble," predicted Durr.
"Wait, I'm not in the final yet," interrupted Navratilova, who agreed that this was the best she had played in some time.
"No, I mean all year," clarified Durr. "You have the kind of game that can give her trouble."
But Evert, who never seems to have a slump but does hit highs, was near the top of her game, too.
"The first two matches of the tournament, I played very loose. The last two days I was a nervous wreck because Sue has come close to beating me the last two times we played, she's one of the up-and-coming stars, and I felt a lot of pressure.
"I was much more careful in this match. I didn't let anything interrupt my preparation. I tried to be a little mean."
"I'm naturally mean," the 22-year-old No. 1 player in the world said wrinklin her nose in a little girl grin.
"It's nothing personal against my opponent, but I have to keep thinking over in my mind that i don't want to give them any extra points. I don't think I should make any errors.