Chris Evert Lloyd moved another step closer today to winning her fifth French Open tennis championship.
Hitting her ground strokes consistently and with good pace, she outclassed Andrea Jaeger, 6-3, 6-1, on the center court at Roland Garros Stadium. In Saturday's final, she will face the world's 44th-ranked player, Mima Jausovec, who overcame the surprise of the tournament, Jo Durie, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
On the men's side, No. 8 seed Jose Higueras finished off Guillermo Vilas, 6-2, 6-7 (1-7), 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, to advance to the semifinals against defending champion Mats Wilander. The match had been halted Wednesday after 4 hours 13 minutes of play by rain and failing light with Higueras ahead, 2-1, 15-love, in the fifth set.
When the match resumed today, Higueras pulled a surprise by rushing the net. The tactic worked as he easily won his first serving game. He then returned to his steady base line game and ran off the next three games in less than a quarter-hour to win the decisive set.
But the main story was how easily Evert handled Jaeger. Last year in the semifinals, Jaeger had won, 6-3, 6-1.
This year, Jaeger, 17, took a 2-0 lead in the first set but Evert then rushed net on several occasions, taking away the momentum. Soon she was ahead, 3-2, and Jaeger was whining complaints at herself.
First, Jaeger was angered by breaking a string on game point. Then she became mad when the ball failed to bounce on the heavy, rain-soaked red clay. Finally, as the games kept rolling to Evert, she was infuriated by a line call, and spent several minutes arguing vociferously with the umpire.
"Last year I was eager and ready to stay out there all day," Jaeger said. "This year I wasn't concentrating. The wind, the bad bounces, the broken string--everything went wrong."
But Evert played the same wind and the same clay so well. "Considering the score, the call didn't mean anything in the match," she said. "Today I think I played well."
In comparison to her play earlier this week, she was much more consistent and confident with her strokes. It was a classic performance by Evert, much more thorough than her brilliant but erratic three-set struggle against Hana Mandlikova in the quarterfinals.
If she plays anywhere near that level of tennis Saturday, Evert should easily win the final. In 13 matches against Jausovec, 26, Evert has lost two sets.
"It'll be tough for me to get motivated for the final, as I'm not playing a big name," Evert admitted.
Jausovec won this tournament in 1977, but since has been bothered by constant injuries to her knee, shoulder, wrist or arm. At Roland Garros this year, she has played healthy, if unspectacular, tennis.
Her big victory came in the third round against seventh-seeded Sylvia Hanika, 6-1, 7-6. Following that, she eased by the French youngster Catherine Tanvier and then Kathy Horvath, both in straight sets. Although Horvath stunned No. 1 seed Martina Navratilova, her game fell apart against Jausovec.
Jausovec played nervously against Durie. In the first set, Durie, who is 6 feet tall, overpowered the 5-foot-3 Jausovec by rushing the net.
"I was just trying to hang in there until I would play better," Jausovec said. "I knew Jo couldn't hit these shots all the time."
She was right. In the second set, Durie became tense and began pushing the ball long or into the net. Jausovec merely had to keep the ball in play to win, 7-5.
Sensing Durie's game was falling apart, Jausovec attacked more in the third set and won easily.
"I became a bit confused," Durie said. "I was just losing my way, especially in the third set. Mima just has more experience in this level of competition."
Jausovec will need all her experience against Evert in the final. "I have nothing to lose," she said. "Chris will have to be more nervous than me."
Nervousness also will play a role in Friday's all-French semifinal between sixth-seeded Yannick Noah and unseeded Christophe Roger-Vasselin. Noah is heavily favored, but is suspect to bouts of wandering confidence and concentration.
In the other semifinal, Higueras and Wilander are players of steady nerve and extremely steady strokes. Higueras is suffering from a severe case of tennis elbow that restricts his practice time, but not his effectiveness on the court.
Against Vilas, his rolling forehand and sliced backhand rarely were off target. Higueras won outright few points, but lost even fewer. His match with Wilander, another base line specialist, promises to be a monotonous, multihour struggle of long rallies.
"The last time I played Wilander I beat him in two sets," Higueras said. "But that was before last year's French Open. Before he was good.