MELBOURNE, Australia — Steffi Graf, riding a 21-match winning streak, defeated Chris Evert, 6-1, 7-6, Saturday to win the Australian Open women's singles title.
Graf, the world's No. 1-ranked women's player, began to outhit Evert when play resumed following a 90-minute rain delay in the first set and then rallied after a superb comeback by Evert in the second set.
The West German led, 2-1, when rain began to fall at the new National Tennis Center. After a delay, officials decided to utilize the retractable sliding roof over Center Court, the first time a Grand Slam final has been played indoors.
Evert, seeded third, was clearly not playing her best tennis. She managed to win only five more points in the first set and crumpled in the second to trail 1-5 before ripping off the next five games to take a 6-5 lead.
After Graf pulled even at 6-6, she won the tiebreaker, 7-3.
The men's singles title will be decided Sunday when Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, playing before his hometown crowd, faces Sweden's Mats Wilander, twice a winner of the Australian Open.
Cash outlasted top-seeded Ivan Lendl, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, to win the semifinal match in 3 hours 56 minutes Friday. Cash won the final four games, losing only four points.
Wilander earlier defeated second-seeded Stefan Edberg, 6-0, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Cash has a 4-3 record against Wilander and beat him in straight sets in last year's Wimbledon quarterfinals. Cash also reached last year's Australian Open final, losing to Edberg.
Throughout the women's final, the top-seededGraf unleashed a barrage of penetrating ground strokes to which the 33-year-old American had no answer until late in the second set.
Graf, at 18 playing in the fourth consecutive Grand Slam final of her career, collected her second Grand Slam tournament title. She won the French Open last year.
Evert, one of the dominant figures in the game for the last decade and a half, was playing her 34th Grand Slam final and had been aiming for her 19th title.
Graf now has won her last five meetings with Evert, all in straight sets, although she still trails 5-6 in their career meetings.
Graf collected $110,000 for her victory, with Evert earning $55,000. Evert was appearing in her sixth Australian Open final. She has won the title twice.
"Steffi is a much better indoor player than I am," she said. "It took time to get used to the conditions. It's a lot different to outdoors."
Graf said her victory was extremely pleasing. "I'm very proud to be the first winner of this tournament in the new stadium," she said.