NEW YORK, SEPT. 9 -- The Grand Slam bid of Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova in women's doubles was halted today by Martina Navratilova and Gigi Fernandez, 6-2, 6-4, in the U.S. Open final. Navratilova thus preserved her status with Pam Shriver as the only women's team to sweep the major championships in doubles in a calendar year, which they did in 1984.
Navratilova and Fernandez cut short Novotna and Sukova's attempt in 57 minutes. Fernandez whiffed a nervous forehand volley attempt as Navratilova served for the match at 5-4, 40-15, but Fernandez then won the second match point single-handedly by stabbing back seven volleys before she slammed a forehand angled winner.
"This was a big deal for us," Navratilova said. "We didn't want them to win a Grand Slam over us and make us a trivia question."
Maria Bueno of Brazil is the only woman besides Navratilova and Shriver who can claim a doubles Grand Slam, but her feat in 1960 has an asterisk because she did it with two partners, winning the Australian title with Christine Truman and the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open with Darlene Hard.
Novotna and Sukova had won the Australian Open by defeating Patty Fendick and Mary Joe Fernandez, 7-6, 7-6, the French Open over Natalia Zvereva and Larisa Savchenko, 6-4, 7-5, and Wimbledon over Kathy Jordan and Elizabeth Smylie, 6-3, 6-4. "If I were to describe the feeling, it would be worse than disappointment," Sukova said.
Navratilova and Gigi Fernandez never had their serves broken, driving the Czech team backwards with skimming passing shots and rapid volleys. They broke serve in the fifth game of the second set and never relinquished the lead, Navratilova holding for 4-2 despite two double faults. Their only glaring error of the set was Fernandez's wild swing on the first match point. "Her strings disappeared," Navratilova said.
U.S. Tennis Association president David Markin presented the winners a check for $142,861, calling them "a truly American team." Navratilova said: "Right. A Puerto Rican and an ex-Czech."
"If we didn't win this I knew we probably wouldn't play together next year," Fernandez said. "We've shown we can win a Grand Slam title. We really didn't want to let them have it."