Navratilova was in complete command in the 6-1 second set. Erratic old Hana. Yes, yes. But she steadied for the bell lap, and after she poked a forehand return down the line, she was serving for the match at 5-3. Navratilova, however, wouldn't yield, and she broke back to earn another tiebreaker. Winner take all. Only once again the champion couldn't win any service points and the challenger could. Mandlikova burst on top 6-0 before finishing with a gorgeous reaching backhand volley.
Navratilova was lovely as Linda Evans came on court to hand out the winners' checks. "Gifts," she called them, as if the contestants might also get some Samsonite luggage and an all-expense-paid trip to Vegas. Afterward, though, beyond the glare, Martina fled, crushed and crying. Notwithstanding the little homily she delivered to the press on the sisterhood of the tour—no political boundaries on court and all that—it's no secret that Navratilova hates most to lose to her onetime countrywoman.
Consider this, too: We have been writing off Mandlikova as some whimsical genius for so long that it may be hard to believe that she's only 23 and that she has made more Grand Slam finals (six) and won more (three) than the great Navratilova had at the same age. Sure enough, before too long she will again squander her great gifts in some match, as surely as Lendl will lose another Big One. But their stigmas are gone. Last weekend did that. The one who was erratic and the one who was a choker will henceforth be judged champions.