YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Tennis Roundup : Navratilova and U.S. Team Defeat Czechs, 3-0

July 28, 1986| From Times Wire Services

Martina Navratilova completed a triumphant return to her homeland Sunday by helping return the Federation Cup to the United States with a victory over Czechoslovakia that left her opponent in tears and the crowd cheering for its prodigal daughter.

Navratilova defeated Hana Mandlikova, 7-5, 6-1, in 1 hour 9 minutes at Stvanice Stadium in Prague, Czechoslovakia, to clinch a 3-0 sweep for the United States, which ended Czechoslovakia's three-year reign as champions.

Chris Evert Lloyd struggled for 1 hour 51 minutes in the opening singles before beating Helena Sukova, 7-5, 7-6, and this provided Navratilova with the opportunity to triumphantly cap her first visit to her homeland since she defected in 1975.

Navratilova did not miss the chance.

Late in the match, with Navratilova's game at its peak, the crowd of 7,000 who cheered Sukova throughout her match and started the second singles squarely behind Mandlikova, began swinging its support to the American.

The final two points were the clincher for the crowd.

Navratilova moved to match point with a volley that sparked a long ovation.

Then came the winner, the point that Navratilova had traveled from Fort Worth, Tex., to get. It was another volley, a backhand, one of the 22 points she won from the net during the day.

As the ball landed, Navratilova thrust her arms in the air. The crowd was on its feet.

Navratilova waved and started to walk off court, but Mandlikova caught up with her and wrapped her arm around Navratilova's shoulder. Mandlikova was crying as they left the stadium.

Navratilova later returned to team with Pam Shriver for a 6-4, 6-2 doubles victory over Mandlikova and Sukova, subbing for the regular Czechoslovakian doubles team of Regina Marsikova and Andrea Holikova.

During the closing ceremony, Navratilova told the capacity crowd, "Maybe I wrote my book too soon. This would have been a great last chapter."

It was a schizophrenic afternoon for the Czechs. They wanted to see their own team win but at the same time felt proud of Navratilova, who, as they tend to say, is "Czech, wherever she lives now."

The fans' support of the visitors rankled Mandlikova and Sukova.

"I had dreamed of playing the United States in the Fed Cup at home, but I am somewhat disappointed," Mandlikova said. "The public did not fully appreciate our efforts."

Sukova said the Czech players had assumed they would have united fan support, "but they (the U.S. team) had bigger applause than we did."

The United States was not the only winner on the tournament's final day.

Britain defeated the Soviet Union in the final of the consolation round, 2-1.

Anne Hobbs opened with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Natassia Zvereva, and Annabel Croft clinched it with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Larissa Savchenko. The Soviets' Natalia Bykova and Svetlana Parkomenko defeated Hobbs and Croft in doubles, 6-2, 6-1.

At Bastad, Sweden, Emilio Sanchez of Spain defeated top-seeded Mats Wilander of Sweden, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, to win the $125,000 Swedish Open.

Sanchez broke Wilander's 23-match winning streak in the tournament. The world's No. 2 player, who won the title in 1982, 1983 and 1985, had been unbeaten on the Bastad courts since losing to Australia's Peter McNamara as a 16-year-old in 1981. He missed the 1984 tournament because of injury.

"This was my greatest victory ever," Sanchez said. "I won Grand Prix events in Nice and Munich earlier this spring, but I rank this win higher as I beat some of the best players in the world on their home court."

The 21-year-old Spaniard defeated Stefan Edberg of Sweden, the world's No. 6 player, in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-3.

Wilander said he enjoyed the match despite the setback.

"This was one of the best matches I've played in for a long time," he said. "When I lost to him in the Italian Open in May, I played attacking tennis. But this time I tried to wait him out. It didn't work, but it was a great match."

Sanchez, ranked No. 21 in the world before this tournament, said he aims to break into the world's top 10.

"I will play in Hilversum, Holland, next week and then I hope to do well in the U.S. Open," he said.

Brad Gilbert scored a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Mike Leach to successfully defend his title in the $125,000 Volvo tournament at Livingston, N.J.

Gilbert, the 11th-ranked player in the world, needed only 69 minutes to dispose of Leach, who had upset him in the 1982 NCAA singles final.

In the women's singles finals, unseeded Michelle Torres upset top-seeded Betsy Nagelsen, 6-4, 6-3.

Earlier Sunday, Torres had advanced to the final by upsetting second-seeded Kathleen Horvath, 6-4, 6-1. Nagelsen defeated Grace Kim 6-3, 6-4 in the other semifinal match Sunday.

Top-seeded Andres Gomez of Ecuador beat third-seeded Martin Jaite of Argentina, 7-5, 6-4, at Brookline, Mass., to pick up the $37,400 top prize in the U.S. Pro Championships.

It was his third tournament victory of the year for Gomez, ranked 12th in the world, and the 13th of his career, 10 of which were on clay.

Jaite, who picked up $18,700, is now winless in four lifetime meetings with Gomez and has yet to win a set. The Argentine lost the final here last year to Mats Wilander--who stayed home to play in the Swedish Open this year.

"Andres played a great match," said Jaite, who is ranked 17th in the world. "But I'm happy. I played a good match, my best ever against him."

Los Angeles Times Articles