Tennis Roundup : Navratilova Puts Her Much-Publicized Losses Behind Her

From Times Wire Services

Forget the notion that the gap is closing between Martina Navratilova and the rest of women's tennis.

Navratilova turned away another pretender to her crown with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia Sunday in the final of the $500,000 Virginia Slims Championships at New York.

"I don't know where the skeptics come from," Navratilova said. "I certainly wasn't writing myself off.

"You have one or two bad losses and all of sudden you're done. They've still got to hit the shots."

Navratilova lost three times (to Sukova, Chris Evert Lloyd and Hana Mandlikova) in her last seven tournaments. But she was beaten only twice in 1985 and twice in 1984. At one point, Navratilova won 74 straight matches.

However, when she slipped into her mini-losing streak, the vultures were waiting.

"All my losses got kind of bunched together," she said. "If I had lost to Chris (Evert Lloyd) back during August, the string would have been broken and the losses spread out more.

"It's not that I'm playing any worse. It's that the other women are playing better."

The world's top-ranked women's player was dominating against Sukova as she exacted revenge for a defeat in the semifinals of the Australian Open last December.

"I didn't play well enough to beat her," Sukova said. "I wasn't nervous, because Martina was expected to win. I think she still is the best one. Also the best one must have some weaker days.

"She just lost to Chris and Hana, who are No. 2 and No. 3. Sometimes when she doesn't play as well, she can still win the match against the lower ranked players.

"In the Australian, I was returning much better," Sukova said. "Today, it was unbelievable. I did not break her serve once in three sets. I think that's bad."

The victory was worth $125,000 to Navratilova, increasing her 1985 earnings to $600,187.

There were only three service breaks in Sunday's unique best-of-five-sets match, but that was all Navratilova needed.

"Today she was just too good for me," Sukova said.

It was only the second time in modern history that women have played a best-of-five-sets match--the first coming in the title match here last year. Navratilova has won them both.

Navratilova once again frustrated the experiment to see how women would fare in a best-of-five format. Last year, the first time it was tried, she also completed business in three sets against Lloyd.

Asked if she thought she'd ever get around to playing a fourth set, Navratilova replied, "I hope not. I got a little tired in the third set, and I'm glad we didn't have to go four.

"Even though it was three sets to love, you saw good quality tennis. I think you play better tennis when you play three out of five. The pressure's off."

Tim Wilkison fought off 6-foot-6 Slobodan Zivojinovic of Yugoslavia, 4-6, 7-6, 9-7, to win an $94,200 Grand Prix tournament at Nancy, France.

The 25-year-old Wilkison won the second-set tiebreaker, 7-5, to force a third set which, under French rules, may not end with a tiebreaker.

Both players held serve in the final set until the 13th game when three consecutive service breaks boosted the score to 8-7 in Wilkison's favor. He held serve to claim the winner's purse of $16,000.

Zivojinovic, 22, was looking for his first tournament victory as a professional. It was the sixth career win for the left-handed Wilkison, who last won in 1984 at Vienna.

Miroslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia won the $250,000 WCT Tournament by defeating Jakob Hlasek of Switzerland, 6-1, 6-2, at Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Mecir, ranked 32nd in the world, needed only 54 minutes to chalk up his first career victory and earn $50,000.

The Czechoslovakian-born Hlasek lost his service twice in the first set. He battled back, but lost four break points in the seventh game.

Hlasek began the second set with an ace, but lost his service twice afterward and fell behind, 5-1.

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