MELBOURNE, JAN. 23 (SATURDAY) -- Steffi Graf of West Germany today defeated Chris Evert of the United States, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), to win the Australian Open women's singles championship.
Graf, 18, the world's top-ranked player, outplayed Evert, 33, when play resumed following a 90-minute rain delay in the first set. She then rallied after a superb comeback by Evert in the second set.
Graf led, 2-1, when the rain began to fall. And after a delay at the new National Tennis Center, officials decided to utilize the retractable sliding roof over Center Court -- the first time a Grand Slam final has been played indoors.
The third-seeded Evert, clearly not playing her best tennis, managed to win only five more points in the first set. In the second, she fell behind, 1-5, but then won five straight games to take a 6-5 lead.
However, after Graf held serve to tie the set, 6-6, she easily won the tie breaker.
Evert, playing her her first Grand Slam final since the 1986 French Open, took an indirect swipe at the decision to play under the roof in her postmatch news conference.
"Steffi is a much better indoor player than I am," Evert said. "It took time to get used to the conditions. It's a lot different to outdoors."
But Evert did concede conditions were the same for both players.
"She just handled it better," Evert said.
The men's singles title will be decided Sunday, when Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, playing in his hometown, faces Sweden's Mats Wilander.
On Friday, Cash, the No. 4 seed, advanced his bid to become the first homegrown winner of an Australian Open men's singles title since Mark Edmonson, in 1976, by defeating top-ranked Ivan Lendl, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, in a semifinal match that lasted 3 hours 56 minutes. Cash won the final four games, losing only four points.
Wilander, the No. 3 seed, defeated countryman Stefan Edberg, 6-0, 6-7 (7-5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, in Friday's other semifinal.
Graf, who earned $110,000 for the victory, was playing in her fourth consecutive Grand Slam final. Last year, she won the French Open and was the runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Evert, who earned $55,000, was playing her 34th Grand Slam final and aiming for her 19th title.
Graf, who has won her last five meetings with Evert -- all in straight sets -- has a 21-match winning streak. She did not lose a set during this event.