Tracy Austin had an axe. She gave Chris Evert 40 whacks. And when she saw what she had done, the next time gave her 41.
That paraphrase of the saga of Lizzie Borden might best describe, in spirit and substance, what happened in yesterday's second match in four days between Chris Evert Lloyd and Tracy Austin, the once and future Ice Maidens of tennis.
Austin is a 17-year-old killer on the court. Ingenious as Lizzie Borden in appearance, she goes after opponents with a tennis racket in the same grim, unemotional way, and with the same lethal intentions, as the legendary Lizzie went after her parents with a hatchet.
Yesterday afternoon at Capital Centre, Austin whacked the 25-year-old Evert Lloyd, 6-3, 6-0 -- even more decisively than she had on Thursday evening -- and reached the final of the $250,000 Colgate Series
She will play Martina Navratilova -- who routed Wendy Turnbull, 6-2, 6-0, in more of a quick ambush than a grisly ax murder -- for a $75,000 first prize tonight.
The crowd of 9,800 who forsook the National Football League coference championship games for tennis yesterday expected Navratilova to overwhelm Turnball, but they were shocked and rather saddened at how ruthlessly Austin handled Evert Lloyd for the second time in 72 hours.
Thursday night -- before the draw for the tournament got turned insideout by Evonne Goolagong Cawley's default to Turnbull because of a sprained hand -- Austin beat Evert Lloyd, 6-1, 6-3. This time she started more slowly, and found more early resistance, but wound up losing one game fewer.
More memorable than the bald scores, however, was the way Austin performed this execution. It was cold, brutal and very, very impressive.
This was Austin's fourth victory in a row over Evert Lloyd, dating back to her 6-4, 6-3 triumph the final of the U.S. Open in September, and the fourth time in a row she has not lost a set.
In the past nine months -- starting wit her 6-3, 6-1 first success over the soon-to-be-wed Chris Evert in the Avon Championships at New York's Madison Square Garden -- Austin has beaten her onetime role model, whose style she so closely resembles, six times in eight meetings.
The inescapable conclusion is that Austin is now the most deadly practioner of the glacial baseline style that Evert Lloyd epitomized in the '70s, recalling the temperament and the unerring ground games of Helen Wills in the 1930s and Maureen Connolly in the 1950s.
Tonight, Austin will be playing Navratilova, who has elevated the net-rushing style of Suzanne Lenglen, Elizabeth Ryan and Alice Marble in the pre-World War II era and postwar champions such as Margaret Court and Billie Jean King to new heights.
Disappointing in the second half of 1979, after her second consecutive Wimbledon singles victory, Navratilova has come into the first tournament of the new year in devastating form: lean, quick, and far stronger than any other woman in tennis.
Yesterday she was broken once -- in the third game, when the fleet but relatively light-hitting Turnbull slid several short, softly angled returns by her and forced errors off stretching half-volleys or low volleys -- but lost only six points on serve thereafter.
Navratilova beat Austin six times in a row after losing to her in the Avon Championships of Washington a year ago this week, then lost their last four meetings of 1979.
"I just didn't play well in those four, starting at the U.S. Open," said Navratilova, who has a history of fizzling in the fall.
"I'm playing a lot better now. I'm moving better, serving better, and this surface (a fast carpet called Sporteze) favors me. It's a new year, which always give me incentive . . . . I've had a tough time playing Tracy, so I'd like to settle that."
With the constrast of styles, and a $75,000 check and one of the four biggest titles in the modern womens game at stake, it could make up for the abject lack of any good matches so far.
The Austin-Evert Lloyd duel looked at the start as if it would be close. In the first half-dozen games, Evert Lloyd hit with more pace, depth, and confidence than she had on Thursday night, and was breaking up Austin's rhythm smartly with looping "moon balls" and drop shots.
She broke serve in the first and third games, but squandered a 40-15 lead in the second and a game point in the fourth. She played well to get ahead, and could easily have led 4-0, but then ruined her chance with unforced errors.
When she committed four errors to lose in the seventh game, a tennis aficionado at courtside said, "It reminds me of the U.S. Open final." In that match, Evert Lloyd simply was not as steady as Austin, and so it was again. She did not win another game.
Austin got to 30-40 in the pivotal eighth game by pouncing on a drop shot after a fiercely intense rally, and putting away a squealing backhand volley, at a deadly angle, off a scrambling forehand "get" by Evert Lloyd. She broke by covering another drop shot easily and drilling a winning forehand down-the-line off it.
Evert Lloyd got from 0-40 back to deuce as Austin served for the set, but then hit a backhand wide and sailed another 10 feet beyond the baseline.After that, she was finished. She hit harder, but grew increasingly, almost painfully ragged.
Bud Collins, the television commentator, once nicknamed Chrissie "the hatchetwoman." She hated that, because beneath the icy on-court exterior is a bright, sensitive, compassionate young woman.
Now the public has come to realize hatchetwoman, Austin. She is an unerring, mentally tough, and uncompromising as Evert was in the years she dominated women's tennis (1974-78), and a downright mean competitor. Lizzie Borden in a tennis dress.
"She never was the cute little girl she looks like, even when she was 14, with her little pinafores and pigtails and braces,"' Navratilova said. "She always was a very tough competitor on and off the court.
"I guess I would compare her to Chris in the mental toughness aspect, but I think Chris can loosen up more off the court and relate to the other players better than Tracy. Maybe that's because Tracy is still young and coming up. Maybe she still doesn't feel confortable, the way that age. But otherwise, they're very similar on court. Nothing bothers them. They look very sweet, but deep down they're tigresses."
Yesterday the tigresses battled each other with loopers which sent Austin so far behind the baseline that line judges had to duck to avoid her racket, with drop shots, and mostly with laser-beam ground strokes. The rallies were longer and harder than Thusday night, but they almost all ended with Evert Lloyd making an error first.
The tennis public has warmed to Evert Lloyd only since her perfection, but never her composure, has slipped. Yesterday's audience was behind her all the way. They even applauded Austin's infrequent errors and cheered Chrissie to come back, but the new hatchetwoman didn't seem to care.Like fellow U.S. Open champ John McEnroe, Austin is strictly "Me generation."
"Maybe people will start believing more that I can beat her," said Tracy, who has made no secret of her surprise and displeasure at being ranked behind Navratilova (now a resident of Dallas) and Evert Lloyd in the U.S. rankings issued at year's end.
"I think they believe it in a way, but they always still thought of Chris as above me . . . . If you asked anybody who they thought was No. 1, they'd still say Chris."
No more. The evidence will not allow it. Evert Lloyd has become instead a sentimental favorite: a great champion whose skill and exemplary behavior in five years at the top of the world have become truly appreciated only now that her nerve, her incomparable toughness on the big points, her immense confidence have gone and left her vulnerable.
The enormous pressures of being at the pinnacle longer than any other modern player had taken their toll even before her marriage last April, which gave her the luxury of being happyu without being No. 1. Without obsession she is not a force to reckon with Navratilova and Austin.
Austin is the new Ice Maiden, unloved because she is the same type of player Evert was, only cooler, tougher, meaner.
Asked yesterday if any part of her felt sorry for Chris, Austin hesitated, grinned sheepishly, then said: "Well, there was one point the other night that I felt a little bit, but I slapped myself because I didn't want her to get back in the match . . . .I guess so, though, because I sort of followed her, and I don't want someone younger than I am to come up and put me in the same position."
That will happen some day, certainly. Perhaps then Tracy will find affection, too.But right now she is the villian, the hatchwoman, Lizzie Borden committing symbolic matricide on poor, dear, Evert Lloyd.