Martina Navratilova defeated Barbara Potter, 6-2, 6-4, Saturday to advance to today's final of the $75,000 Audi Challenge tennis tournament at the Rancho San Clemente Tennis and Fitness Club in San Clemente.
Navratilova, ranked second in the world and the tournament's top-seeded player, will meet Pam Shriver for the championship at noon.
Shriver, ranked fifth in the world, needed only 56 minutes to defeat seventh-ranked Zina Garrison, 6-1, 6-0, in the other semifinal.
Navratilova challenged Potter with passing shots and pace changes, and frustrated the 15th-ranked player by charging the net for winners.
Although Potter played an aggressive serve-and-volley game, Navratilova used great anticipation and timing to outwit Potter's attack at the net. With Potter serving 2-2 in the first set, Navratilova fired back two cross-court returns for winners, breaking Potter for a 3-2 lead.
Navratilova broke Potter's next serve for a 5-2 lead with a topspin lob, a slice and two power forehands winners, one of which Potter sent sailing into the stands. Potter made three unforced errors in the next game to lose the first set.
In the second set, Potter became more aggressive, rushing the net at almost every opportunity, yet she couldn't gain a break. Although her volleys were fierce when on target, Potter began losing control at the net and lost her serve in the third game.
"I knew it would be a matter of holding serve," said Navratilova, winner of six consecutive Wimbledon titles. "She's aggressive, but once she went down a break in the second, I think she felt she was in trouble.'
If so, Potter didn't let on. After Navratilova held for a 3-1 lead, Potter served four straight points to take the next game. Navratilova answered in the next game with four straight points, including two aces, to take a 4-2 lead.
It was then on her serve and down a break that Potter made her best effort. After volleying into the net and hitting long to drop to 0-30, Potter overpowered Navratilova with a series of stunning volleys and served two straight aces for the game.
But Navratilova, it seemed, had had enough, holding her next serve at 30 with the type of serve-and-volley game that suits her best--powerful yet very precise. But still, Potter, facing everything from deceptive lobs to deft net play, didn't give in and managed to hold serve at 5-4.
Interestingly, the two serve-and-volley players fought the final game from the baseline, though Navratilova came in for a winning slice at match point.
Navratilova said today's final will be another battle at the net.
"It'll be a footrace," she said. "Pam and I are both quick. Besides holding serve, I'll have to beat her to the net to win.
Top-seeded Steffi Graff and Isabel Cueto, both of West Germany, advanced to the final of the $150,000 Virginia Slims women's tournament at Hamburg, West Germany. Graf beat Sandra Cecchini of Italy, 6-0, 6-2, and Cueto downed Kathy Horvath, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2.
Mats Wilander of Sweden, seeded No. 1, lost only three games in defeating Argentine Guillermo Perez-Roldan, while Argentine Martin Jaite beat compatriot Eduardo Bengoechea to advance to the final of a men's $300,000 Grand Prix tournament at Barcelona, Spain. Wilander won, 6-3, 6-0. Jaite controlled the first set and went on to win, 6-2, 6-4.