Top seeded Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert Lloyd, seeded second in the $350,000 Virginia Slims championship, took less than a hour each to dispatch their semifinal opponents today.
Navratilova defeated eighth-seeded Sylvia Hanika, 6-1, 6-1, in 55 minutes, a neat bit of revenge for Navratilova, who had lost this tournament to Hanika a year ago. She has now won 26 straight matches.
Evert needed a minute less--only twenty minutes for the second set--to beat Billie Jean King by an identical score. She and Navratilova will play for the top prize of $80,000 Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
"I wasn't thinking too much about (Hanika's victory) last year," said Navratilova. "Until it was 6-1 and 30-all, when a fan came up behind me and said 'Keep it up Martina, I remember what she did to you last year.' "
The way Navratilova played, Hanika had few chances to repeat her upset. Navratilova looked completely confident, holding serve and taking a 4-0 lead in the first set. In the fourth game, she held Hanika without a point.
"To beat her, you've got to come in to the net. But I tried to make more power from the baseline and put more pressure on her," said Hanika, who relied heavily on her usually strong backhand throughout the match.
But in the second set, Hanika's backhand suddenly sharpened, and she took Navratilova to deuce in the second and sixth games, and won the third.
"All of a sudden, at 3-1, she starts hitting like there was nothing to it," Navratilova said. Navratilova was down a break point then, after missing an overhead. "I came up with an important serve then, to get the big point," she said. "And once I held (serve), it was all over."
Evert, whose passing shots seemed to become crisper and more accurate as the match wore on, took an easy 5-0 lead over King in their first set. "I started really well, which is unusual for me. I usually start out so slow," Evert said. "But even though I won the first set easily, I knew if I let up even 5 or 10 percent, she (King) could get all fired up. She's in excellent shape."
King appeared slightly fatigued, but insisted she was not. "I expected to be a lot better today," she said. After repeatedly missing first serves in both sets, King admitted, "I thought my serve was terrible today. I just didn't have anything on it."
Still King thought she could have turned the match in the other direction in the second game, probably the longest of the 14 they played, when the players repeatedly traded advantage points. "I had so many, but every time I got an ad point, I didn't win it, and I think that game was the turning point," King said.
She came back to win the sixth game on a long volley, but Evert, who said she felt she could "easily pounce on her second serves", continued dominating King well into the second set.
King fought back to take the fourth game, much to the delight of the 13,858 in attendance, but that was as close as she came.
Sunday afternoon's meeting will be the 52nd between the two premier women's players. Evert holds a 30-21 career advantage, but Navratilova has won 11 of the last 15 decisions and since the start of 1982 she has compiled an incredible match record of 113-3.
"I'll have to concentrate throughout the match and not have a letup," Evert said of Sunday's match. "I can't get discouraged if she's playing well. It's all mental. I have to go in feeling I have a good shot, otherwise I won't be in there. For those who think it's an unfriendly rivalry, it's not. It's a friendly rivalry but in the back of each other's minds she feels I'm her big rival and I think she's my big rival."