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Navratilova Beats Sukova in Eastbourne Final

From Times Wire Services

Battling gusty winds, Martina Navratilova avenged one of her rare losses Saturday.

The top-seeded Navratilova defeated fifth-seeded Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia, 6-4, 6-3, to win the $175,000 women’s grass court tournament at Eastbourne, England, for the fourth straight year.

Sukova, a 20-year-old Czech, was the last player to beat Navratilova on grass, defeating her in the Australian Open last December.

Tuning up for next week’s Wimbledon tournament, Navratilova and Sukova had to play two singles matches on the same day. Because Friday’s play was washed out by rain, the semifinals and final were played Saturday.

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Earlier in the day, Navratilova beat third-seeded Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria, 6-1, 6-2. And in her semifinal, Sukova survived three match points before downing 10th-seeded Wendy Turnbull of Australia, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4.

Navratilova said that playing the two singles matches in one day helped her. “I felt I was getting better and better with each game,” she said.

The champion broke Sukova’s serve in the fifth game of the opening set with a brilliant passing shot on the run. It was the only break in the first set, although Navratilova found the wind difficult to cope with and served three double faults in the eighth game.

Navratilova also broke serve in the first and third games of the second set and finished the match in 69 minutes to win the $31,000 first prize.

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“She played very well,” said Sukova, who collected $15,200 as runner-up. “Maybe next time, I will have more chance when I play against her.”

In the semifinals, Turnbull was leading by a set and ahead, 5-3, when she had three match points against Sukova.

She lost the first by attempting a drop shot from the baseline, the ball hitting the net. Sukova produced a winning smash to save the second match point, and Turnbull hit the ball wide on the third.

The Czech forced the set into a tiebreaker, which she won comfortably to even the match. Sukova then romped to a 4-1 lead in the third. After Turnbull rallied to tie at 4-4, Sukova ran out the match.

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Against Maleeva, Navratilova’s first four serves were faults, but she had more problems with the wind than with Maleeva’s baseline game.

Navratilova said later she was happy with her game in general and with her service in particular.

“I was more confident with my return of serve, and I was serving better and better,” she said. “The longer it went on, the better I played. I lost service only once in two matches, and that was a loose game.”

Rain washed out singles play for the second consecutive day in the $117,000 West of England grass court championship at Bristol, England.

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In the semifinals, sixth-seeded Brian Teacher was scheduled to play eighth-seeded Marty Davis, and Roger Knapp was lined up to play fellow-qualifier Glenn Layendecker.

Organizers said they would try to get the semifinals and final played today.

Hu Na, who defected from the Chinese Federation Cup team three years ago, qualified for women’s singles at Wimbledon.

Hu, now living in the United States, will play Britain’s Annabel Croft in an opening-round match. She advanced to the main draw by defeating Lea Plchova of Czechoslovakia, who qualified as a “lucky loser” when Italy’s Rafaella Reggi withdrew.

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Among players qualifying for men’s singles were Robert Van’t Hof, Robert Seguso, Matt Anger and Chris Dunk.


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