PARIS — Martina Navratilova, saying she just as easily could have lost, and Chris Evert Lloyd, boosted by special incentive, continued their decade-old domination of women's tennis today by advancing to the championship match of the French Open.
The top-seeded Navratilova dropped her first set of the tournament before bouncing back to beat sixth-seeded Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in the opening match on center court.
Then Lloyd, the defending champion and No. 2 seed, ousted another seed from Czechoslovakia, No. 5 Hana Mandlikova, 6-1, 6-1.
Saturday's championship match will be the 69th meeting between Navratilova and Lloyd in 13 years. Navratilova leads the series, 36 to 32. Lloyd defeated Navratilova in a classic French final last year, 6-3, 6-7, 7-5.
A victory by Lloyd would be her seventh French singles championship--more than any other player, man or woman.
Navratilova started sluggishly against Sukova, and the turning point for her did not come until the second-set tiebreaker. "I could have lost that match easily," Navratilova said. "I was three points away."
Lloyd never had such problems against Mandlikova, who never had a break point, never got to deuce on Lloyd's serve and had 32 unforced errors to seven for Lloyd.
Lloyd said she came into the match wanting to avenge losses to Mandlikova in their last two meetings.
"I had more of a purpose in this match," she said. "I basically had something to prove to myself. I wouldn't have wanted to do down to her for a third straight time."
Lloyd said she would rather meet Navratilova for the championship than any other player.
"If I was playing anyone else, I would probably go in with a lot more confidence," she said. "But if I would win a Grand Slam title, it would mean the most to me to beat Martina in the final. She's No. 1."
As Lloyd was speaking, Navratilova slipped into the interview room.
"I just wanted to know if you wanted to go out Friday night to an Italian restaurant," Navratilova said.