PARIS, JUNE 2 -- These are tough times for Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Imagine their confusion. Here they are, playing in a Grand Slam tennis tournament, and, when they face each other, it won't be in the final.

Thursday, they will meet in the semifinals of the French Open, the first time in six years they have played a nonfinal against each other. Today, they won as they always win against opponents named Claudia Kohde-Kilsch and Raffaela Reggi, Navratilova ousting Kohde-Kilsch, 6-1, 6-2, shortly after Evert had beaten Reggi, 6-2, 6-2.

Tough times, indeed.

"It will feel really strange playing Chris knowing there's another match for the winner to play," Navratilova said. "I don't think we've done it more than two or three times in the last 10 years. All the emotions will be the same, though."

The emotions today at Stade Roland Garros were difficult for anyone to find. On a day that began cool, turned hot and finished rainy -- typical for Paris this time of year -- the men's matches provided little more suspense than the women's matches. In the midday heat, Ivan Lendl, the defending champion, moved into the semifinals with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Andres Gomez.

Lendl's match, to use his words, was a "carbon copy" of the three previous matches the two men have played here. "It's the same story," Lendl said. "We split the first two sets and then he tires out. It's pretty much a matter of splitting those first two sets for me."

Gomez, by his admission, isn't in anywhere near the shape Lendl is. Knowing this, he often slumps noticeably when faced with the prospect of a long match with Lendl. Last year, he was the only player to win a set from Lendl here, but, after splitting two 7-6 sets, he proceeded to disappear, losing the last two sets, 6-0, 6-0.

Today was hardly any better. "He's an athlete and I'm not," Gomez said with a shrug when asked about his perennial collapses against Lendl. "He's worked to be in shape all his life and I haven't. He's just in better shape than I am and it shows."

That attitude may explain Gomez's record. He is one of those players who makes a lot of money every year by winning in places like Washington, Boston, Florence and Itaparica. Put him in a Grand Slam tournament, however, and he is often Mr. Quarterfinal. He has reached the quarterfinals of Grand Slam events six times, but never further.

The other men's quarterfinal today never got past the first set, rain stopping Miloslav Mecir and Karel Novacek with Mecir up, 4-2. The two players will try to finish Wednesday, when more rain is predicted.

The sun stayed out for Evert and Navratilova, but neither had much chance of getting a tan during their brief stays on the court. Evert was first, opening play in front of a nearly empty stadium against a very fired-up Reggi.

"She certainly is hyper at 11 o'clock in the morning," Evert said of the Italian, who bounces up and down so much a spectator can get dizzy watching. "It took me a while to get loose. Once I did, I felt okay."

She was a little better than okay. After losing her serve to open the 71-minute match, she found her rhythm during a seven-deuce third game and began blowing winners to every corner. Reggi tried lobbing; Evert attacked. Reggi tried trading ground strokes, but had no chance. Finally, she resorted to just shouting in anguish as one winner after another whizzed past her.

"She missed maybe four shots the whole match," Reggi said. "People say she's not as good as she used to be, but she sure looked pretty good to me. I didn't play so bad. She was just too good."

Too good is what Evert and Navratilova have been for a lot of years now. It has taken 10 years for Steffi Graf and Gabriela Sabatini to emerge -- two players who at least have a chance against the doyens. Even now, however, nothing is certain. Graf and Sabatini will meet in a semifinal match Thursday before their seniors play their match.

"We've outlasted a lot of these upstart kids, haven't we?" Navratilova said, laughing. "It gets harder and harder all the time, though."

It certainly didn't seem that way today. Kohde-Kilsch had as much chance of beating Navratilova as a a single-engine plane has of landing in Red Square, maybe less.

When Kohde-Kilsch and Helena Sukova arrived on the scene a few years ago, they were tabbed as the new breed in women's tennis. Both are more than 6 feet tall; both play serve-and-volley; both are bigger and stronger than Navratilova and Evert. They would be the successors, the next generation.

After today, the combined record of the two giants against the doddering old women is 5-48. Kohde-Kilsch complained after the 65-minute match that she was bothered by a pulled stomach muscle. Perhaps so. But while that may have affected the length of the match, it certainly didn't affect the outcome. Navratilova, with resurrected coach Renee Richards looking on, was superb.

Like Evert, she seemed to hit every line. Like Evert, she looked as eager and hungry as she did 14 years ago when she first played here as a teen-ager.

Evert-Navratilova LXXII (72, but the Roman numerals somehow seem more appropriate) should be as fascinating as I through LXXI.

The two semifinals are filled with irony. In one are two players who are 30-plus; in the other two players not yet 18. What happened to the female tennis generation born in the 1960s remains to be seen {with the exception of Graf, that is, who was born in 1969}.

The older players particularly are looking toward Thursday. It won't be a final, but it will be Evert-Navratilova. It will be special. Again.


Center Court

Miloslav Mecir, Czechoslovakia, vs. Karel Novacek, Czechoslovakia, completion of suspended match; Jimmy Connors (8), Sanibel Harbor, Fla., vs. Boris Becker (2), West Germany; Yannick Noah (6), France, vs. Mats Wilander (4), Sweden.