Martina Navratilova claimed she might be able to play just a little bit better. She didn't have to, though, thoroughly dominating Chris Evert Lloyd in just more than an hour today to win the $350,000 Virginia Slims championship, 6-2, 6-0.
Displaying confidence with every move, Navratilova said she was ready for this match and had no reason to feel nervous. "If I'm nervous, then something's wrong, right?" she said later. "I had seen all week how well Chris was playing, and heard (from other players) how determined she was to beat me. But I'm playing well."
The victory, which gave Navratilova the top prize of $80,000, was her 27th consecutive and, when added to the winner's check from her doubles victory here with Pam Shriver, brought her career earnings to more than $5.1 million. She has now won 114 of her last 117 matches.
In all, Evert managed only 15 points in the second set and could reach deuce only once on Navratilova's serve. Otherwise, she never threatened to break.
Asked just how much better her performance could become, Navratilova said, "I could see myself a little bit better. Not much, but a little. Oh, there were some lapses here. I can be more aggressive on the backhand, and maybe I could hit the ball a bit harder. But right now, I'm pretty close to as good as I can be."
Navratilova had started the match by taking the first game easily, then she and Evert traded games with Evert winning the fourth of that set after getting three advantages. Then Navratilova experienced difficulty for the first time all afternoon.
"In that fifth game, I didn't get very many first serves," she said. "But I was still able to hold on. Down love-40 and won the game.
"I came back for the big point. I knew I was going to break her serve, but I didn't want her to break me first and get on top."
Navratilova lobbed high to start a rally, then returned Evert's shot. Evert hit it short into the net.
"The fifth game--I'm not saying that was a turning point but it was kind of a big game for my confidence," Evert said. "I think I could have played that game a little tighter. She got two big serves, and after that things started to go downhill for me."
Although she came back from a love-40 disadvantage in that game, Navratilova said that had she lost, it would not have affected the ultimate outcome. "I don't think I would've lost the match. It just would have taken longer to win."
After winning the fifth game of the first set, Navratilova seemed to step up her pace, serving well and keeping her opponent on the run by covering the whole court. "Before the match, my coach (Renee Richards) asked if I was ready to run for two hours," she said. "I said, 'Does it have to be that long?', but I knew if that's what it would take, I'd stay out there and run the whole two hours."
Instead of the drawn-out, three-set match both players had anticipated, it was over in 64 minutes. "I never expected it to be this quick," said Navratilova, who was identified as "Sylvia Navratilova" on the computer stat sheet.
In the second set, Navratilova never allowed Evert the chance to get into a volleying match. "I think I'm more versatile than Chris is," Navratilova said. "She tried to force the action more in the second set, because she wasn't getting anywhere playing from the base line. She had to come in more. When she did, she wasn't sure if I'd stay back, hit a drop shot. I was able to keep her off balance."
Evert said every strategy she tried was met and matched by Navratilova. "I think she played flawless tennis," she said. "I thought I hit some pretty good shots, and she would run them down. There was nothing I could do to work, whether staying back or coming into the net. So I just hung in there and tried a few things. She came back with an answer."
When Navratilova won the opening game of the second set, she gave a quick little jump of jubilation. "I did have more confidence after winning the first set," she said. "I just kept running. But like Chris said, I'm not invincible. Next time she might kill me. So I'll stay humble."