NEW YORK — Situated together in the middle of the National Tennis Center are the Stadium Court and the Grandstand Court, where the featured matches in the U.S. Open are played out.
Because her second-round encounter with Lisa Bonder was rained out, Martina Navratilova had to make up her match Saturday on the Grandstand Court--while Chris Evert Lloyd played Grace Kim in a third-round match on the Stadium Court.
There they were, the two top-seeded players in the women's divisions, playing side by side.
One spectator, dividing his attention between watching Navratilova's match and peeking over the fence to see Lloyd's score, summed up the day's proceedings neatly. "The only competition," he said, "is to see who finishes first."
The race was on. After 25 minutes, Navratilova held a 6-1, 3-0 lead over Bonder. She eventually left the court with a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
Lloyd's match started a bit later, so she had to follow Navratilova into the interview room. But like Navratilova, she allowed her opponent just two games--trouncing Kim, 6-0, 6-2.
So much for the excitement in the women's division.
Lloyd, seeded No. 1, and Navratilova, No. 2 yet the defending champion here, are on two roads that seem certain to cross in next Saturday's final. It's a given, as predictable as the jets that fly over Flushing Meadow to and from La Guardia Airport.
Right now, people are playing a U.S. Open version of Trivial Pursuit: Name someone, anyone , capable of breaking up the Big Two--that is, providing the biorhythms are right, the day's horoscope looks good and the moon is in its proper house.
Answers don't come easily.
"A dark horse? I don't know," Navratilova offered. "Rabbit (Wendy Turnbull) seems to be playing better. And Claudia (Kohde-Kilsch). And, then there's Hana (Mandlikova) and Pam (Shriver). I still say those players have the best chance."
Lloyd said: "I think Hana's playing very well now. On her day, she can be real dangerous. And Kohde. Both happen to be on my side of the draw. I think those two on a fast court can be real dangerous."
Kohde-Kilsch, who figures to meet Lloyd in the quarterfinals, swept Ann Henricksson in her third-round match, 6-3, 6-4. Mandlikova, a possible semifinal opponent for Lloyd, advanced to the round of 16 with a 6-3, 6-4 decision over West Germany's Sylvia Hanika.
Other seeded women's players to win were No. 7 Helena Sukova, who downed Camille Benjamin, 6-0, 7-5; Turnbull, who stopped Michelle Torres, 7-6, 6-1, and Carling Bassett, who eliminated Linda Gates, 6-4, 6-4. Bonnie Gadusek (No. 14) was upset by Robin White, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Still, all eyes are on Navratilova and Lloyd--as they should be.
Navratilova's are, too, as she discusses the seedings in the women's draw. "It's not affecting my play at all," she says. "There's no proven record that it helps to be No. 2 or No. 1 for me or for Chris, either. If we were to play each other in the finals, I'm sure that the seedings wouldn't win one point out there."
Lloyd said that a matchup with Navratilova is "really the furthest thing from my mind at this point." But moments later, that thought crept a little closer as Lloyd talked about her play in the early rounds.
"I don't think a player likes to peak in the first few rounds," she said. "You want to save that extra energy for the final few rounds."
Translation: Store your strength now--for that showdown with Martina later.
Ivan Lendl and Yannick Noah made up rain-delayed matches Saturday and moved closer to a quarterfinal meeting.
Lendl, seeded second in the men's division, routed Bill Scanlon, 6-2, 6-0, 6-3. Noah (No. 7) downed Jim Grabb, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2. Both Lendl and Noah will play third-round matches today.
In another rain makeup, David Pate upset ninth-seeded Miloslav Mecir, 6-4, 6-0, 6-3. Mecir was the only seeded player in the men's bracket to lose Saturday.
In the regularly scheduled third-round matches, Andres Jarryd (No. 6) swept Tim Wilkison, 6-0, 6-1, 6-4; Boris Becker (No. 8) eliminated New Zealand's Kelly Evernden, 7-6, 6-3, 7-6; Tim Mayotte (No. 13) defeated Nigeria's Nduka Odizor, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3; and Tomas Smid (No. 16) outlasted Jimmy Arias, 4-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6.
Tenth-seeded Joakim Nystrom also advanced to the round of 16 when his opponent, Dan Goldie, retired in the third set because of a strained muscle in his left leg. Nystrom was leading at the time, 6-0, 6-1, 1-1.