The No. 1-ranked women's tennis player and the one just below her had tried to ignore the obvious question during the first few days of the $300,000 Toyota Championships.
"I can't worry about meeting Chris (Evert Lloyd) in the final," said Martina Navratilova, the top-ranked woman this year. "She might not be there."
"It's not definite that I'm playing Martina yet," Evert, who is ranked second, said today after a semifinal match in which she handed defending champion Tracy Austin the worst defeat of her professional career, 6-0, 6-0.
But in the later semifinal, Navratilova defeated Hana Mandlikova, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 in little more than an hour, and all the uncertainty disappeared. Navratilova and Evert advanced to Sunday's final in the last major tournament of the year.
Evert, displaying her confident brand of tennis, in only 48 minutes dismissed Austin, holding her to five points in the first set and nine in the second.
In the first set, poor serving by Austin made her vulnerable to service breaks. Austin got just one point in the first three games.
During one long rally in the third game, Austin's backhand looked stronger than before, and briefly, she seemed ready to rally in spite of being down.
However, Evert capitalized on Austin's hesitant play by taking a 5-0 lead less than 30 minutes into the first set, finishing it off, 6-0, minutes later.
Navratilova and Mandlikova served with almost equal precision. The winner got 62 percent of her first serves in compared with 63 percent for Mandlikova.
"The match was close," Navratilova said, "but I had more confidence in my serve than she did in hers."
Navratilova said the tie breaker was the turning point for Mandlikova, who had played aggressively throughout the first set.
"Obviously if she had won the tie breaker, it would have been a much longer match," she said. "Except for the first two points, I played a solid tie breaker. It was still close. (If she had won) she might have come back."
Although Austin has the edge on Evert in career matches (now 9-8), her recent poor play and subsequent loss of confidence prevented her from performing well today.
"She's not the same player she was a year ago," Evert said. "She's just not moving well out there."
Austin, trying not to look and sound too disappointed, said, "I felt like I did as much as I could out there today. That was just as well as I could do, and I think I have to forget about it and accent the positive."
Austin had not lost a love set since April 1981, when Navratilova defeated her in a Bloomington, Minn., indoor match.
Austin frankly admitted 1982 has been "my most disappointing year," but had shown a glimpse of her old form in beating Andrea Jaeger Friday night in a quarterfinal match.
Evert said Austin's current form "couldn't hurt me. She didn't have any weapons, and I didn't have to take any chances."
Navratilova, who enjoys playing indoors, thinks the carpet surface may be an advantage, a sentiment shared by Evert. "The surface might favor her more than grass," said Evert, who prefers playing outdoors. "Let the doors open, let the snow in."
Evert holds a 30-18 career edge over Navratilova, but in their three previous 1982 meetings, Navratilova is 2-1.
About her rivalry with Navratilova, Evert smiled and said, "If you get Martina by herself, we are good friends. But we have been rivals for so long, at least five years. She doesn't want to hurt me, and I certainly don't want to hurt her.
"But when we play each other, we both want to be really tough and kill each other." She laughed. "Naturally, we both want to win."