With a few regal swings of her racket, Chris Evert Lloyd quickly dispatched Mima Jausovec, 6-1, 6-2, today and won the French Open for a record-tying fifth time.
Looking calm and collected despite the 100-degree sizzle on center court at Roland Garros Stadium, Evert never lost her superior bearing in winning her 15th Grand Slam event. In 14 matches against Jausovec, Evert has lost only two sets. Today's victory, accomplished in 65 minutes, earned her $75,000.
Sunday, Yannick Noah will attempt to become the first Frenchman to win this tournament since Marcel Bernard did it 37 years ago. Noah will play Sweden's Mats Wilander, the defending champion, in the men's final (WRC-TV-4 at 9 a.m.).
But this was Evert's day. "I felt today that I would beat myself more than she could beat me," Evert said. "Mima had a mental letdown, but even if she was in form I think I would have won."
To be sure, Evert is in a better class than Jausovec. But Jausovec, a petite Yugoslavian, is a scrappy, steady player who won here in 1977 and was a finalist in 1978, so Evert would not have beaten her so easily if she hadn't been at the top of her form.
The champion hit her ground strokes with confidence and steadiness. Her shots had enough pace to force errors, and she moved them well around the court, hitting some excellent drop shots.
Evert raced through the opening set in 20 minutes with the loss of only 13 points. Six of those points came in the fourth game, which Jausovec took on her third break point following three uncharacteristic errors. But generally, Evert guarded her points zealously, playing with ruthless efficiency.
While both women mixed up their shots throughout the match, Evert did it better. The last two points of the match were a perfect illustration. At deuce, Jausovec tried to catch Evert with a drop shot. But Evert raced to the net, got under the ball and put away a cross-court backhand.
Then, on match point, Evert returned the favor, gently caressing the ball over the net, a drop shot that Jausovec could only put into the net.
Such vintage Evert has not been a sure thing in recent years. Even she admits her concentration has not always been superior. "My game is mental," she said. "It comes from inside and has to do with how much I really want it."
Give Evert a challenge, though, and she responds like a champion. With Martina Navratilova having risen to the top of the rankings, Evert, 28, has decided to muster most of her mental energy on the Grand Slam tournaments.
The strategy has paid off. She won the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadow last September, and the Australian Open at Melbourne in December. But at two lesser tournaments this winter, the Virginia Slims events in New York and Dallas, Navratilova easily beat her.
"Ever since then I have been gunning for Paris," Evert said. "When I lose, it makes me work harder."
She had extra motivation to win here. As U.S. Open and Australian champion, a victory here would put her one short of a Grand Slam. Traditionalists may question the validity of a Grand Slam won over two years, but the International Tennis Federation has ruled that if Evert wins at Wimbledon this year she will become the first woman to reach this pinnacle since Margaret Smith Court in 1970. Evert's fifth French title also tied the mark held by Court.
The ITF has added another motivation: a $1 million bonus for any player who wins the Grand Slam. The No. 2 women's player in the world thought before today's final that her U.S. Open victory last year would count toward the Grand Slam. But the ITF has ruled that the Grand Slam must be completed in a calendar year, starting with the Australian Open. That means she must win Wimbledon and retain the U.S. title to take the prize.
"I'll let you figure out what the real Grand Slam is," Evert said, joking. "I'm just going to go on and try and win Wimbledon."
When she started on the tour a decade ago, Evert owned center court here and clay courts in general. From Aug. 1, 1973, to May 1979, she never lost a match on the surface, and she won so easily, with so little sweat and emotion, that she became known as the ice queen.
After capturing the championship in 1974 and 1975, the only thing that stopped her in 1976, 1977, and 1978 was her commitment to Team Tennis, which forced her to skip the tournament.
"I think I could have asked for 15 days off to come here and play," Evert said. "But this wasn't such an important tournament then. All the big players didn't come."
When the big names decided to come in 1979, Evert led them back. Not missing stride, she immediately took possession of the winner's silver cup. But in the last two years, she has struggled on the slow clay in Paris. Struggled, that is, for Evert. In 1981, Hana Mandlikova beat her in the semifinals, 7-5, 6-4. Last year, Andrea Jaeger defeated her in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-1.
This year, Evert struggled to gain her form. In the third round, she looked bad against Helena Sukova, and only her experience saw her through in three sets. Against Mandlikova in the quarterfinals, she displayed flashes of brilliance, but wasn't as consistant as she can be.
"The big match of the tournament was Hana," she said today. "I won, not playing well, and after that, I played well."
In the semifinals, she took apart Jaeger, reversing last year's scores by winning, 6-3, 6-1. And today she looked unbeatable.
Her next big challenge is Wimbledon. She does not plan to play any tournaments on grass before then, but nevertheless she is pointing toward it with eager confidence.
"There is a lot of incentive for me to win Wimbledon and I think I will be able to get psyched up for it very easily," she said. "It is good to play Martina. She is No. 1 and I am No. 2, but the fact that I have played her twice this year will help me. I know her game now."