The contrast could not have been greater. Martina Navratilova, the No. 1 player in the world and the No. 1 seed in the Virginia Slims of Washington tournament, took 35 minutes out of her day to beat Vicki Nelson, the world's 65th-ranked player, 6-0, 6-0. Navratilova won all but 16 points in the match. She had one game point against her. Had she ever had a quicker match? "Timewise, yeah; gamewise, no," she said.
"I punched it in."
Andrea Jaeger, the No. 3-ranked player in the world and the No. 2 seed here, had a more trying day at the Smith Center. For 95 minutes, Peanut Louie stayed with her, giving back what she got, baseline to baseline, making things tight, making Jaeger run. Finally, Louie tired, the way people do, and lost, 6-4, 6-4.
Navratilova and Jaeger advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Today, Jaeger will play JoAnne Russell in the morning session. Russell defeated Zina Garrison, the No. 8 seed, 6-4, 7-5, yesterday. Navratilova will play Helena Sukova tonight for the first time.
The matches yesterday could not have been more different--in style and in substance. One was a contest; one was a mismatch. "She has nothing to hurt me with," Navratilova said.
Still, there was something to be learned, from those who lost, about the reasons Navratilova and Jaeger win the way they do.
Navratilova takes advantage of every opening. "Anytime she gets a short shot, she takes advantage of it," Nelson said. "She doesn't let anything pass by. I let a lot of people off the hook. She takes advantage of every ball she can."
Jaeger's advantage is that she does not allow many openings, but waits patiently for one, running everything down until she gets one. "Andrea is willing to stay out there and try different shots," said Louie, who beat her the last time they played. "She doesn't have to hit it 80 miles an hour."
It must be a suffocating sensation, going into a match against her, knowing you can't make many mistakes because she'll make fewer of them. "Today, I did pretty well on that," Louie said. "Sometimes, I say, 'Oh God, Chris Evert! Andrea Jaeger!' and spray the ball. Today, I played relaxed. For the first time, I didn't do that."
But Louie still made too many errors. When her backhand wasn't hitting the lines, it was sailing long. One of them gave Jaeger a break in the first game of the match. Although Louie broke back to even it at 1, another loosely played shot and a double fault gave Jaeger a break in the third game.
They traded breaks in the seventh and eighth games and Louie served at 5-3. Twice, she saved set points. Jaeger mumbled under her breath; Louie held. Jaeger served for the set; Louie helped her win with four unforced errors.
Jaeger is not one to let up. Four times in the first game of the second set, Louie saved break points. After trading breaks in the third and fourth games, they stayed even until it was 3-3.
At 30-30, Louie sent a spin serve wide to Jaeger's forehand--so wide it nearly kicked into press row. Somehow, Jaeger reached it and launched a forehand down the line. Louie, on the defensive, returned it weakly. Jaeger put it away.
On break point, Jaeger sent a soft, unreturnable forehand into the same corner. Louie's last opening closed.
Those who spent the day waiting for the unexpected, waited for Russell. At 28, she has discovered topspin. It keeps her groundstrokes in the court.
In the first set, Garrison, who is ranked 16th, never looked comfortable. Rhythm seemed to elude her. She stayed back and fell behind. She won three games to go ahead, 3-2, but lost the next three, and along with it her only chance in the set.
Again, in the second set, she fell behind, 4-0. Finally, she broke through to make it 4-1. But Russell broke right back with an overhead.
Garrison changed her tactics. She began to serve and volley. Charging, attacking, she fought back to 5-5. But this was new to her. "My confidence wasn't there when I needed it," she said.