The good news for the Virginia Slims of Washington is that all the seeded players won yesterday to advance to the quarterfinal round. The bad news for those seeds is that Martina Navratilova is healthy, sharp, and intent on getting back the No. 1 ranking -- ASAP.
Top-seeded Navratilova, the second-ranked player in the world, took a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Gigi Fernandez last night at Patriot Center toward the end of another day dominated by the seeds.
Hana Mandlikova, the fourth seed and defending champion, advanced, as did third-seeded Gabriela Sabatini, fifth-seeded Helena Sukova, sixth-seeded Zina Garrison and eighth-seeded Natalia Zvereva. Second-seeded Pam Shriver and seventh-seeded Barbara Potter made the quarterfinals Wednesday.
Jeri Ingram, the emerging 17-year-old from Springbrook High School, played one of the best matches of her young career but was overmatched by Garrison, 6-0, 6-2.
The crowd of 5,500 was squarely behind Ingram. But Garrison, the No. 10 player in the world, fully expected that and squashed any thoughts of an upset. "I never really gave her a chance," Garrison said. "I knew she'd be nervous under the circumstances. She's very impressive. There's so much potential there."
Ingram admitted to being a bit shaky: "In the first set I was trying to get over my nerves, trying to settle down."
By the time she did, Garrison had identified some areas she could exploit; Ingram's tendency to stand deep in the court made her vulnerable to drop shots and wide-angle serves.
Garrison won't find those weaknesses in her next opponent, Navratilova.
Navratilova didn't have an easy time of it. But in each set, after Fernandez had pulled even, 3-3, Navratilova buckled down and won the crucial points.
Fernandez said she "played a couple of loose games," which is suicidal against an opportunist like Navratilova. One of those loose games came in the first set, after Fernandez had broken serve to tie. "Often, you break and you let your guard down the next game."
Navratilova broke back for a 4-3 lead and held serve twice to win the first set. Another loose game came after Fernandez held serve to go up, 1-0, in the second. With double-break point, Fernandez -- hurt by a couple of scorching first serves -- blew two backhands and the chance at taking a 2-0 lead. When Fernandez double faulted on break point, to fall behind, 4-3, in the second set, it was all Navratilova needed.
Mandlikova struggled, but only briefly. She beat Terry Phelps, 7-5, in the first set but cruised to a 6-0 victory in the second.
Sabatini also needed a tie-breaker, but won it easily and defeated Nathalie Tauziat of France, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1).
Fifth-seeded Sukova had the toughest match of the seeded players, needing a tie-breaker in the second to beat Russian Larisa Savchenko, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1).
That set up the following quarterfinal round: Seventh-seeded Potter will face third-seeded Sabatini; fifth-seeded Sukova faces second-seeded Shriver; top-seeded Navratilova meets sixth-seeded Garrison; fourth-seeded Mandlikova plays eighth-seeded Zvereva.
Garrison has lost all 20 matches she has played against Navratilova. "It's not like Martina is going to make me or break me," Garrison said. "But to become the player I want to be, I'll have to go through Martina."
This is only the second tournament since December for Sabatini, the 17-year-old Argentine who decided to take off part of December, all of January and part of February for vacation. "To the beach every day," she said.
As a result, Sabatini said it has been difficult for her to get her concentration back. That was evident in the second set yesterday.
Tauziat, 20, has improved by more than 100 percent in the world rankings each year since turning pro four years ago, and now is up to No. 21.
Sabatini won the first set easily, then found her mind wandering. "Yeah, maybe I was too confident," she said. "She was better in the second set. She hit the ball much harder and got to some balls I couldn't believe. But I could not drop that set so I started concentrating again."
Sabatini held serve convincingly to force the tie breaker, where she picked up a minibreak on the first point with a forehand passing shot and was helped by a netcord to hit a putaway volley and take what was an insurmountable 4-1 lead.
Sabatini is on a new workout regimen she sticks to even during tournaments and said that playing twice within 15 hours didn't bother her.
YESTERDAY'S RESULTS SINGLES Second round
Martina Navratilova (1), Fort Worth, Tex., def. Gigi Fernandez, Miami, 6-4, 6-3; Helena Sukova (5), Czechoslovakia, def. Larisa Savchenko, Soviet Union, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1); Hana Mandlikova (4), Australia, def. Terry Phelps, Larchmont, N.Y., 7-5, 6-0; Gabriela Sabatini (3), Argentina, def. Nathalie Tauziat, France, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1); Zina Garrison (6), Houston, def. Jeri Ingram, Silver Spring, Md., 6-0, 6-2.DOUBLES First roun
Martina Navratilova, Fort Worth-Pam Shriver, Lutherville, Md., def. Anne Henricksson, Mill Valley, Calif.-Wendy White, Fort Worth, 6-1, 6-3; Larisa Savchenko-Natalia Zvereva, Soviet Union, def. Eva Pfaff, West Germany-Wendy Turnbull, Deerfield Beach, Fla., 7-6, 7-3 (6-1); Natalia Bykova-Leila Meskhi, Soviet Union, def. Terry Phelps, Larchmont, N.Y.-Stephanie Rehe, Highland, Calif., 7-5, 6-2.
TODAY'S SCHEDULE In order of play MORNING MATCHES (10 a.m.)
Mary Lou Daniels-Anna Maria Fernandez vs. Lea Antonopolis-Barbara Gerken; Barbara Potter vs. Gabriela Sabatini; Helena Sukova vs. Pam Shriver; Martina Navratilova vs. Zena Garrison; Nicole Provis-Judith Weisner vs. Gabriela Sabatini-Helena Sukova.EVENING MATCHES (6:30 p.m.)
Hana Mandlikova vs. Natalia Zvereva; Martina Navratilova-Pam Shriver or Anne Henricksson-Wendy White vs. Natalia Bykova-Leila Meskhi; Elise Burgin-Robin White vs. Larissa Savchenko-Natalia Zvereva.