Australian Open Tennis : Navratilova Is Accepting Role; McEnroe Fined

Times Staff Writer

Martina Navratilova, wearing a jaunty headband and a role as an underdog, showed up Saturday at center court where the roof was closed and the match was short.

Navratilova was clearly favored against Czechoslovakia’s Jana Novotna, whom she beat, 6-2, 6-2, in 53 minutes, but if Navratilova, the 32-year-old new resident of Aspen, Colo., is lucky enough to run up against Steffi Graf in the Australian Open final, she knows it would clearly be an uphill race.

“I’m the underdog,” Navratilova said. “I am. Steffi has won everything in sight and I have not.

“I’ve been the underdog and I’ve been on top. I’m definitely not the center of attention, which is fine with me.”


Navratilova won 9 tournaments in 1988, but she was shut out in the Grand Slam events for the first time since 1980 because Graf won them all.

Entering her third year as No. 2, Navratilova said Ivan Lendl, who has said this week he isn’t interested in becoming No. 1, “is full of beans.”

Navratilova said she wants to get past Graf and regain the No. 1 ranking she held for 7 years, but not with the same desire as before.

“Yes, being No. 1 means a lot to me,” she said. “But I’m not going to die if I don’t get there. The failure only comes if you fail to try.”

John McEnroe, seeded No. 7, battled sun, wind, concentration problems and a verbal battle with a sideline judge, for which he received a warning and later a fine in his second-round match late Friday afternoon.

Along the way, McEnroe managed to defeat Brod Dyke of Australia, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

McEnroe said he was angry for letting himself become distracted by a few line calls. On the changeover at 4-3 in the third set, the linesman complained to the umpire, who issued McEnroe a warning.

“It was unfortunate,” McEnroe said. “I felt like I should have kept myself under better control. That’s a match I should have won in straight sets, but the main thing is just winning now.”

Later, it was announced that McEnroe and Pat Cash of Australia were each fined $500 for outbursts. Cash was penalized for an audible obscenity during his 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3 victory over American Richey Reneburg.

Top-seeded Steffi Graf of West Germany said she did not feel bad, only cold, in a breezy Friday afternoon match against Marianne Werdel of the United States. Graf powered her way through a 6-0, 6-1 victory that took just 47 minutes.

Gabriela Sabatini, seeded No. 3, pitched a 6-0, 6-0 shutout at Camille Benjamin of the United States.

Stefan Edberg, seeded No. 4, turned in another strong performance and won his second-round match Friday, defeating Heiner Moraing of West Germany, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5.

Men’s singles winners who happily accepted their victories Friday were Johan Kriek, Darren Cahill, Thomas Muster and Amos Mansdorf.