Martina Navratilova came to the rescue of her friend and her country today after Chris Evert Lloyd suffered a slow and embarrassing defeat at the Federation Cup.

Evert, thrown off her game by tendinitis in her left knee, was upset by Italy's Sandra Cecchini, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, in a match that stretched 2 hours 20 minutes. It was Evert's first singles loss in Cup play.

Navratilova, once again greeted with cheers and well wishes from a capacity crowd in her native country, defeated Raffaella Reggi, 6-2, 6-4, then teamed with Pam Shriver for a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Reggi and Laura Garrone as the United States won the match, 2-1.

"I've never had to play a singles match after being down, 1-0, but I knew we'd win the doubles so it was a question of me winning the singles," Navratilova said.

The top-seeded United States will play third-seeded West Germany in Saturday's semifinals. West Germany edged No. 5 Bulgaria, 2-1, today. West Germany's Bettina Bunge, replacing the injured Steffi Graf, overcame Katerina Maleeva, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, but Manuela Maleeva brought Bulgaria even with a 6-4, 6-2 decision over Claudia Kohde-Kilsch. Bunge and Kohde-Kilsch then earned the deciding point by beating the Maleevas, 6-4, 6-2.

Evert had won her first 29 singles matches in Federation Cup competition, and is 43-2 including doubles.

Evert committed five double faults and 67 unforced errors.

The doctor treating Graf said her broken right toe could take six weeks to heal, which would not be in time for the U.S. Open.