Stylistically it was, as anticipated, an evening of mirror images across a tennis net: groundstroker against groundstroker from the trenches of the backcourt, and one net-rusher against another similarly inclined to reach the forecourt.
But last night at Capital Centre, 17-year-old Tracy Austin was more aggressive and uncompromising from the baseline than Chris Evert Lloyd, outstroking the lady from whom cynics insist she must be cloned for the third straight time.
And Martina Navratilova was much more overpowering serve-and-volleyer than Evonne Goolagong Cawley, a furious whirlwind against a pleasant breeze.
As a result, two matches that were expected to be exquisitely close turned out to be decidedly lacking in drama.
Austin flogged Evert Lloyd, 6-1, 6-3, and Navratilova battered Goolagong, 6-3, 6-2. The one-sided results regrettably disappointed the 9,100 spectators who came expecting truffles and champagne and had to settle instead for salisbury steak and chablis.
Austin, who had clobbered Wendy Turnbull, 6-1, 6-0, on Wednesday night, and Navratilova, a 6-3, 6-0 victor over Kerry Reid on opening day, thus advanced directly to Saturday's semifinals of the $250,000 Colgate Series Championship with 2-0 records.
Evert Lloyd and Goolagong -- who recorded lopsided opening day victories over Dianne Fromholtz and Regina Marsikova, respectively -- have 1-1 records, and must play again today to stay alive in the eight-woman playoff among the top point-winners in the 1979 Colgate Series of 33 tournaments around the world.
Evert Lloyd will play Marsikova this afternoon, the winner to face Navratilova on Saturday evening. Marsikova yesterday received a walkover from Reid, who pulled out of the tournament because of recurrent tendinitis in her right elbow.
Goolagong will play Turnbull tonight at 7 p.m., the winner to face Austin on Saturday. Turnbull yesterday recovered from her jet-lagged lethargy of the night before and beat Fromholtz, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Goolagong, particularly, is still very much alive and potentially the recipient of some good fortune from the draw, since she has a good chance to beat both Turnbull and Austin on the fast indoor carpet that favors her style.
Fromholtz (0-2) and Reid, who inflamed a tennis elbow that has been bothering her for seven weeks in a loss to Navratilova on Wednesday, has been eliminated.
This afternoon's session will begin at 1:30 with an exhibition match, the players to be announced. The Goolagong-Turnbull match tonight will be followed by the doubles final, Navratilova and Billie Jean King facing Evert Lloyd and Rosemary Casals, who last night beat Turnbull and Betty Stove, 6-2, 6-2.
Most of last night's audience came to see the rematch of the U.S. Open final in which Austin beat Evert Lloyd, 6-4, 6-3, last September. If that match represented the changing of the guard in U.S. women's tennis, yesterday's encounter affirmed it.
Austin had beaten Every Lloyd again in a tournament at Stuttgart, West Germany in November, so this triumph made it three in a row and five of seven in the last nine months for Austin, the Ice Child who has succeeded the long-reigning Ice Maiden.
There are a number of psychological undercurrents at work when these two attack each other from the baseline because Austin, who until last March wondered if she would ever beat the dominant player of the '70s, thinks she should have been ranked ahead of Evert Lloyd in the U.S. rankings issued at year's end.
She was steadier, quicker, and palpably tougher on the critical points than Evert Lloyd, who made too many unforced errors and couldn't seem to gather her old intensity.
One game illustrated the difference best. Serving at 3-3 in the second set, Evert buzzed a vintage backhand down-the-line winner to go ahead 30-0. A man in the pro-Evert Lloyd crowd shouted: "Yah, THAT was Chris Evert," as if rediscovering an old friend.
But Austin just became more determined, and won the next four points to break serve -- the fifth break in as many games -- and take charge of the match for good.
"I didn't feel very match tough at that point . . . I thought I played those points pretty loosely," said Evert Lloyd, who sprayed two forehands long around Austin winners: a forehand volley off a looper that she darted in and plucked from the air and a screaming backhand crosscourt.
"Tracy feels confident playing me because she's beaten me the last few times. The shoe's on the other foot now, and I'm in the position where I'm feeling the pressure a little more than the younger players are."
Austin kept applying pressure, repeatedly covering Evert Lloyd's drop shots and making forcing shots off them. She hit deeper, made fewer mistakes, and got the better of long, side-to-side rallies.
Austin continues to get stronger as she matures, and at the moment she can simply out gun Evert Lloyd from the baseline, inducing errors even if not strickly forcing them.
"Chris loves her backhand cross court, really deep, to a right-hander's backhand or Martina's forehand," noted Austin. "I always used to be backing up on it because I wasn't strong enough to lean into it. I've gotten stronger now, and it doesn't hurt me as much." A simple analysis, but true.
By the end, Evert Lloyd was shaking her head almost subconsciously after errors, reenacting a stroke after it misfired as if trying to remember how she used to hit it.
Navratilova never lost her serve, and was simply too imposing at the net for Goolagong, who was wrong-footed in the third game of the first set and fell flat on her face at the baseline, scraping the knuckles of her racket hand.
She said her hand felt a bit numb the rest of the match, and Navratilova noted that she kept seeing blood-stained Band-Aids on the sidelines.
But it was Navratilova's numbling power that decided the match. Except for the third game of the first set, Goolagong never exert any real pressure with her service returns.
Goolagong escaped two break points from 15-40 in the second game and had a break point in the third, but Navratilova slice a serve deep to the backhand, opening up the court, and put away a backhand volley. That vision of her closing in hungrily on the net and hammering a volley beyond Goolagong's desperate lunge was a recurring one throughout the match.
Navratilova achieved the only service break of the first set in the sixth game, coming in behind a deep forehand approach and nailing a backhand volley for 30-40, then pouncing on a short ball and forcing Goolagong to miss a backhand down-the-line pass for the break.
Navratilova swarmed the net at every opportunity and flicked away winner almost disdainfully with the most powerful wrist and forearm in women's tennis. She broke in the fifth and seventh games of the second set and served out the match. Goolagong, overwhelmed by the onslaught, became increasingly erratic, knocking a feeble backhand return into the on the second match point.