Though she lost a set for the first time this year, top-seeded Steffi Graf rallied to defeat Chris Evert, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, Sunday in the final of a $300,000 Virginia Slims tennis tournament.
“It’s disappointing,” said Evert, 34, who was seeded third. “I had a point for 4-4 in the third set, and I realized she was very beatable today.
“Whenever you get to 3-3 in the third set, the chances are there. The last few games, probably age was a factor. I didn’t feel tired, but maybe I lost a step or two.”
Evert, playing before family and friends at the Polo Club of Boca Raton, won the first set by breaking the 19-year-old West German’s serve in the seventh game.
Graf recovered quickly, taking a 3-0 lead in the second set and going on to even the match at one set apiece.
In the third set, the players remained on serve through seven games. In the eighth, Evert was serving with a 40-15 lead when she lost four consecutive points and the game. In that run, Evert first missed the baseline, then Graf whipped a sideline winner to reach deuce and broke service when Evert hit the next two into the net.
With a 5-3 lead, Graf held service at love to end the 1-hour 52-minute match.
It was the fourth consecutive tournament title for Graf, ranked No. 1 in the world.
“I’m satisfied with winning but not with the way I was playing,” she said. “I didn’t have the range on the court.”
Graf was awarded $60,000, bringing her tournament singles earnings to $295,000 since January. Evert earned $24,000 as runner-up.