Top seed Martina Navratilova rolled into the final of the Virginia Slims of Washington last night, 6-4, 6-2, over fourth seed and 1987 champion Hana Mandlikova in a match that featured the best shotmaking by far in the $300,000 tournament at George Mason University's Patriot Center.

Navratilova, who has won this tournament a record eight times at other area sites, today at 1 p.m. will face second seed Pam Shriver, a 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) semifinal victor over third seed Gabriela Sabatini. But forecasting the winner of the $60,000 first prize, double the runner-up purse, appears relatively simple, as it has been all week: if Navratilova is playing at her best level, no one in this field is going to come close to her.

Against Navratilova, Shriver is winless since the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in 1982. Since then, the closest Shriver has come was three straight three-set losses in 1986. Last meeting, in Dallas this year, Navratilova beat her in the final, 6-0, 6-3.

Navratilova has won her last 22 matches against Shriver, and 32 of 35 all told.

"I do things a little better," said Navratilova, who knows Shriver well from both sides of the net. After yesterday's singles, these regular doubles partners, top seeded, teamed to oust semifinalists Mary Lou Daniels and Anna-Maria Fernandez, 6-3, 6-0, and after today's showdown will pair against second-seeded Sabatini and Helena Sukova.

"I have a better weapon off of the backhand," Navratilova went on. "She {Shriver} really has a hard time passing people. She has to finesse, because she doesn't really have a topspin backhand. And with me being an attacking player, she has to pass me."

Last night, in front of the best crowd by far to see the tournament this week (6,900) both Navratilova and Mandlikova banged winner after winner. Unfortunately for Mandlikova, many of hers came after she fell behind, 4-0, at the start. She was broken in the opening game, double-faulting three times, including on break point.

Mandlikova, however, climbed into the match by breaking in the sixth game and holding for 4-3. Each held serve. Then at 5-4, Navratilova fell behind, 15-40, on her serve when Mandlikova put a shot at Navratilova's feet. But Navratilova went wide for an ace, then came in behind her serve for an easy half volley for deuce. She came in again, and Mandlikova ripped a forehand crosscourt. Navratilova lunged to cover, and got her racket on the ball for a winner. Mandlikova netted a return, ending the set.

"Points against Martina go very quickly," Mandlikova said.

Navratilova broke in the third game of set two for a 2-1 lead. After holding for 3-1, she put the match away with another break when Mandlikova sandwiched two unforced errors around a Navratilova running crosscourt forehand at Mandlikova's feet.

"I guess I'm pretty happy. I just didn't play as well as I did {Friday against Zina Garrison}," Navratilova said. "I wasn't as sharp. But the thing is, I'm playing so much better now that even when I'm not playing great, it's still way above what my average was last year."

Shriver, who is already in her third final this year, knows the task in front of her.

"Given the way I played two weeks ago {in Dallas}, I'll have to improve on that," Shriver said. "What I'd like to do is be able to see some lefty serves {to prepare for Navratilova's}. I think that's going to be a big key, how I'm going to handle the different serve. I'm going to have to serve extremely well. I was glad that it wasn't three sets today, because if I play three tough sets in singles, my arm gets a little tired. There's no excuses why I can't play a solid match and make her work for it."

After Sabatini came back from a 3-1 first-set deficit, the set continued on serve until the 12th game. The Argentine teen-ager went for three backhand passing winners and missed them all, giving Shriver three set points. Sabatini saved them all, but then hit a backhand long and Shriver converted her fourth set point when her half-volley dink trickled over the net.

"That would have been a real blow," Shriver said, "if I had blown that from love-40 and ended up in a tie breaker. It was very key, once it got to deuce. But naturally, in a 7-5, 7-6, you can point to about 10 situations which are key."

It looked as if Shriver was vulnerable to lobs from Sabatini, who has an excellent topspin one. But Sabatini was content to stay for the most part at the base line and try her luck with passing shots. And with the 6-foot Shriver smothering the net, that was difficult to do.

Sabatini did make a change in her serve at the start of the second set, coming in behind it, and lost just five points her first four service games. Meanwhile, she had a couple of chances to break Shriver, but blew chances in the seventh and ninth games after getting to 15-40 in both games.

Both held to set up the tie breaker. Sabatini got up, 3-1, when she ripped a forehand winner off Shriver's serve, and led, 4-2, after she volleyed crosscourt. But Shriver got a point off Sabatini's serve to close to 4-3. Shriver closed again to 5-4 when she ran down Sabatini's slice and flicked a half volley crosscourt. A deep serve resulted in an easy smash to give Shriver the lead. Sabatini's half volley flew out for match point, and her last backhand passer of the day found the net.

"I didn't have any concentration," said Sabatini, who had taken two months off before playing last week in the Virginia Slims of California.