VOLUME 6, Number 4

February 25, 1985

Virginia Slims of California

The Oakland Coliseum is definitely Hana Mandlikova’s home. Winner in 1984 versus Martina Navratilova in final, she takes the tournament by storm without losing a set , and creates a huge upset, beating Chris Evert-Lloyd for the first time since Roland Garros ’81!

Hana Mandlikova, « giant-killer » in Oakland.

1st rd vs Barbara Gerken

For most tennis players, one opponent at a time is enough. For Hana Mandlikova, at times there seemed to be two opponents : the player across the net and herself.

For most of Wednesday night’s first-round match against Barbara Gerken, the 23-year-old Czech looked well in control, overpowering her rival with smashes and an occasional dazzling drop shot.

But in the second set, things nearly came apart. A couple of calls went against her, the crowd got behind her oppponent, and Gerken, the world’s 86th-ranked player, started ripping two-handed backhanders for winners.

She fought off a match point and rallied from 3-5 to take a 6-5 lead. Mandlikova lost her cool. She shouted at the crowd, belted a backhand three rows deep, and drew a warning for taking too much time to leave the players bench.

Struggling, she held serve for 6-6, then dropped behind 4-2 in the tiebreaker before rallying to win the game 7-5 and the match 6-2,7-6.

Mandlikova, seeded sixth in the tour-nament she won last year, said after- ward she’ll have to play « 50 percent better » to repeat.

She insisted she wasn’t bothered by the criticism, some of it from other players, that regularly appears in the press.

« I’m my own person and I’m trying my best. I don’t care what other people think, or the press, » she said. 

« … I ‘always say what I feel and what I think, and sometimes the press doesn’t like it « .

2d rd vs Kim Shaefer

Hana Mandlikova is the seventh-ranked woman tennis player in the world. Her father is a sportswriter in her home town of Prague. nor friend. Helena Sukova. is ranked even higher. at No. 4. Sukova’s father is the president of the Chechoslovakian tennis federation. Thursday at the Coliseum Arena, Sukova dumped Debbie Spence 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 in the quarterfinals of the $150,000 Virginia Slims of California tournament and came back a couple of hours later to team with Germany’s Claudia Kohde Kilsch for a doubles victory over Californians Alycia Moulton and Paula Smith.

Mandlikova’s day was even easier. She all but shut out Kim Shaefer 6-0, 6-1 in her quarterfinal. Mandlikova faces Wendy Turnbull and Evert Lloyd plays Kohde Kilsch in quarterfinal matches. 

Tennis is Czechoslovakia’s only true professional sport. They must be going wild in Prague. Right? Wrong.

You already know more about the matches than most in Prague will ever find out. They won’t know that Mandlikova on one hand banged passing shots that left Shaefer helpless and, on the other hand, dropped soft, deft cut shots at her opponent’s feet Somewhere, somehow, someone did something wrong and relations between Czech tennis and the state-restrained media went awry.

« When I won the French Open in ’81 and made the finals at Wimbledon everything was fine. The matches were on Czech TV, » said Mandlikova, the defending champion of the Oakland event « Now, the newspapers don’t report much about tennis. I don’t know why they don’t write very much. « 

« It may have something to do with the time (Ivan) Lendl went to South Africa (in 1983). After that they didn’t seem to write as much. » Czech athletes are restrained from playing in four nations Chile, Israel, South Africa and Taiwan. Lendl went to South Africa and Mandlikova went to Chile.

The political unsuitability of those playing junkets and the spectre of the large amounts of western money available to the players might account for the cutback in media emphasis. Mandlikova made $293,737 in Slims events alone last season, while Sukova pulled down $144,709. No direct pressure has been put on the players, though.

« I just have to play one week for (the Czech federation), in the Federation Cup, and I do that gladly, » said Mandlikova. « That’s not too much to ask. They give us a lot of freedom. » , 

Including the freedom to keep all that prize money. Mandlikova’s family has no trouble keeping up with her career, anyway. They follow tennis via Austrian and German TV as well as the reports her father has access to in his work. 

QF vs Wendy Turnbull

Friday night, the eight seeded players, as determined by computer, all reached the quarterfinals, so the first « upset » of the tennis event was sixth-seeded Mandlikova’s 6-3, 6-4 triumph over No. 2 Turnbull before a crowd of 8,422 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. Mandlikova, who won the 1984 title, will take on fellow Czech Helena Sukova, the third-seed, in Saturday night’s semifinals. She likes her chances, no matter what the computer might say.

« I know she’s improved a lot this year, but she’s never beaten me, » Mandlikova said of the 6-foot-l player she has faced six times, the last occasion being in the quarterfinals of the 1984 Wimbledon tournament

At 7 tonight, she’ll face Mandlikova, a surprising 6-3, 6-4 upset winner over second-seeded Wendy Turnbull. « I look forward to it, » said Sukova, although she has lost four straight matches to and never taken a set from Mandlikova. « Maybe I will have more luck this time. » 

Mandlikova, who is the No. 1 Czech player, believes that, too. « Our matches are always very tough, » said Mandlikova, although the scores belie that statement. She beat Sukova, 61, 6-4, a year ago, but both players believe tonight’s match could be different.

Perhaps that is because both of them have the distinction of holding two of three upsets over Martina Nav-ratilova in the last year. Sukova beat her two months ago in the semifinals of the the Australian Open and Mandlikova upset her in the final here last year.

« I don’t know why this is a good tournament for me, » Mandlikova said after she upset Turnbull. « Maybe this is a lucky place here, I dont know. » 

Against Turnbull, Mandlikova didn’t need much luck, instead allowing her powerful service return to speak for her. Down 4-2 in the second set, Mandlikova scored back-to-back service breaks to go ahead 5-4. « I really returned well at the moment, » she said. « It was hard because I knew I had to hold my serve and I managed to do that. »

Turnbull, obviously, was disappointed. Up until yesterday, she had been enjoying the finest season of her 10-year career. « I played very patchy, » she said. « I started off OK, but I let down and didn’t really put pressure on when it was needed. I let her back into the game. »

SF vs Helena Sukova

Hana Mandlikova hasn’t beaten Chris Evert Lloyd In almost four years, but then, at this time last year, she hadn’t beaten Martina Navratilova in four years either.

Mandlikova knocked off Navratilova a year ago to win the Virginia Slims of California tournament, and she’ll have a chance at another upset today when she faces Evert Lloyd in the 2 p.m. final.

‘To me It doesn’t matter who I play, » said Mandlikova, after upsetting fellow Czech Helena Sukova 64, 64 last night in front of 9,383 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.

You have to wonder, though, if she wouldn’t be happier playing someone she’s beaten more than twice in her career.

« I just play the ball, play my game and don’t worry about the results. »

But Evert Lloyd is not just any player. She’s a legend, and played like one last night, crushing fourth-seeded Zina Garrison 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

 « It’s a challenge for me to play a serve-volleyer like Hana, » Evert Lloyd said. « She can really be brilliant. »

What’s more, Mandlikova has incentive. She’s lost in the quarterfinals in the last three tournaments she’s played, but her game is coming together after a self-imposed two-month layoff.

 Hana Mandlikova defeated Helena Sukova, 6-4, 6-0, to gain entry into the final of the Virginia Slims of California. Sukova, seeded third, who was celebrating her 20th birthday, fought off five set points in the ‘ ninth game of the first set, finally breaking Mandlikova’s serve to pull to 5-4. But Mandlikova broke right back to take the first set and won the next six games, closing out the match with a sizzling backhand cross-court shot.

« She didn’t really make any problems for me today, » Mandlikova said of Sukova, who has never beaten her or taken a set from her. « I’ve been playing very well this whole tournament. I feel good about things. She had some chances tonight, especially in the first set, but after that there was nothing. »

« I played terrible, my game was. off, » explained a disappointed Sukova, who had to settle for a loss as a 20th birthday present. She now has lost seven straight times to Mandlikova, although she is ranked two notches ahead of her on the computer. 

 « I don’t know what to say. I was just terrible. » Sukova did have her chances, however. She had three break points in the first set and finally pulled it off in the ninth game to draw within 5-4. But she lost her serve the next game, to decide the set, and essentially, the match.

« I always had the advantage and couldn’t do anything with it, » said Sukova. « Everything bothers me, whatever she does. I wasn’t even able to do anything against her. » Which was especially vivid in the second set. 

« I think the mental thing came back then. At the end of the first set I thought I had a great chance, but I don’t know what to say. »

In doubles, Mandlikova and Wendy Turnbull, the third-seeded team, upset the top seeds, Sukova and Claudia Kohde-Kilsch.5-7,7-5,6-3.

F : vs Chris Evert-Lloyd

 Let it be known that this is « Hana-the-giant-klller’s » turf. In cnasecutive years, the world’s top two players came and were slain by the unpredictable tempo of the 23-year-old Czech. Mandlikova, in upsetting topseeded Chris Evert Lloyd 6-2, 6-4 yesterday, kept alive not only her string of upsets, but the Oakland jinx as well, pulling off something that few players will ever do.

« I just played my best, » said Mandlikova, who upset top-ranked Martina Navratilova to win here last year. They were absolutely different matches, » she said, comparing the two wins. « Nobody had beaten Martina in two years. I am very, very happy this year, but last year was a little more exciting. » 

With two upsets in a row, Mandlikova has kept the hex on the giants who play here. It now has been five years since the top seed won this event, and Evert Lloyd has never won here. 

 « I like the people being so close to the court You can feel the atmosphere, feel the excitement, » said Mandlikova, who delighted the crowd of 8,703 and pocketed $28,000 for the win.

In the doubles final, she and Wendy Turnbull defeated Rosalyn Fairbank and Candy Reynolds, 43, 7-5, 6-1.

« I dont know why I do so good here, » Mandlikova said. « But I do. »

Yesterday she was far better than just good. She was an inch shy of brilliant, breaking Evert Lloyd’s serve five times with bullet-like returns and stinging shots from the net. ‘ But it was her inpredictable rhythm that kept Evert Lloyd at bay. Mandlikova would rally deep, and then suddenly mix the tempo by whispering a drop shot over the net or slicing a backhand to the half court.

« The way she was playing today she probably would have beaten anybody in the world, » said a disappointed Evert Lloyd, who made a lot of uncharacteristically bad shots. »

« In this tournament, for some reason, her game’ has fallen into place beautifully. I thought I could count on a few more errors. »

Usually she, and anyone else, can. Great things have been expected from Mandlikova since she Joined thejour seven years ago, and she has shown some glimmef of greatness, but has never delivered.

« We’ve seen this type of tennis from her, but’ not consistently. If she could string together a couple, of matches like this she could be No. 1, » Evert Lloyd said.

Evert Lloyd crushed Mandlikova, 6-2, 6-1, in the semifinals of Wimbledon last year, and hadnt lost to her since the French Open in 1981. ‘ ( « 1 think she probably was a little more psyched up playing me than I was playing her, » Evert Lloyd said.

Mandlikova said she never felt as if she would win, even in what became the final game, when she had double match point. -« Chris is such a good hitter she can always come back. « 

Mandlikova, seeded sixth, powered past Lloyd with surprising ease after losing their previous 11 matches.

The Czech’s only two victories in 18 prior matches against Lloyd were on clay in the semifinals of the 1981 French Open and in Atlanta in 1980 on an indoor surface similar to the one here.

Mandlikova, who turned 23 last week, played an aggressive serve and volley game throughout and made good use of her 5-foot-8 height at the net.

After holding serve at 3-2 in the opening set, the Czech won the next four games. Lloyd’s mistakes, as much as Mandlikova’s fine playing, turned the match

« I don’t know what was wrong, she just had no spark, » said Lloyd’s husband, tennis pro John Lloyd, who watched at courtside. « I couldn’t get the level of my game up a notch as I usually should, » Lloyd said.

« We’ve Seen this type’ of Tennis from her, but not consistently, » Lloyd said. « If she can string together a lot of matches like this, she could be No. 1. »

« Today, she probably would have beaten anyone in the world, » Lloyd said. « But then tomorrow she could play and lose to somebody who she shouldn’t lose to. That’s her game; up or down. »

Mandlikova ranked No 7 in the world has for years displayed the potential to hover at tennis’ highest level alongside Lloyd and Martina Navratilova.

But Mandlikova has been unworthy of large wagers In three tournaments this year she failed to move past the quarterfinal round. Then she arrived at the Coliseum Arena a building that seems to suit Mandlikova.

She won this tournament last year beating Navratilova She dismantled Lloyd in 68 minutes Sunday after losing 11 consecutive matches’ to Lloyd.

Yet to raise the specter of inconsistency in Mandlikova’s presence is to risk a bash on the head from her racket.

“I’m very happy with my consistency” Mandlikova said “When I don’t play well I don’t call it being inconsistent I call it being a human being »

She’s further distressed by the implication that someday she might be ranked No 1. “That doesn’t matter so don’t ask about it again OK?” Mandlikova said « It’s important to stay happy and play good tennis If I play my best and lose I am happy”

“I improved during every match I played this week” she said “And in the final I played my best” 

General about the event

The Virginia Slims of California has come a long way fljaby) from the rough outdoor courts of Long beach City College, where several hundred fans watched the finals in 1971. Two days ago at the Oakland Coliseum arena, more than 8,000 saw the final, and during the week, 45,641 watched what is now the nation’s oldest women-only tournament That was 2,000 more than last year, which suggests that interest in women’s tennis is alive and well in the Bay Area. 

« Oakland is a good stop on the tour, » said Chris Evert Lloyd, who organizers say is the hottest-drawing player on the circuit. « It draws more than most cities. » And that appeals to all levels of players. This year, something else helped, too.

But concern Is mounting about the tournament’s jinx-like image, and rightfully so. In the last five years, the top seeds have been upset, Evert Lloyd the latest victim when she was beaten by Hana Mandlikova in sunday’s final.

It is difficult to tell whether that fact will keep players away or increase their desire to win the tournament because they haven’t. « I don’t have bad luck tournaments, » Evert Lloyd said. Conversely, Mandlikova, who upset Navratilova here last year, doesn’t have good luck tournaments.

« it doesn’t matter where you play, » Mandlikova said, although she admits she likes the crowd at Oakland and the facilities.

« And I’m not going to say I won’t come back to this tournament because II can’t win, » Evert Lloyd said. But you wonder. When making out their season’s schedules, Evert Lloyd and Navratilo-,va compare notes, choosing the events they will play in together, and usually splitting up everything else.

« Tournaments complain when  they can’t get either or both of us, » Evert Lloyd said. « If both of us played together every time, there would be about 15 events that wouldn’t have either of us .

 » Besides, she admits, it gives her a better chance at winning. « I would rather not play in the same tournament with her (Navratilova) every single time. I already play her eight times a year and it’s good to have a tournament where you play other players. »

But, as she found out Sunday, those tournaments can be dangerous to her, as well. Her intensity isn’t as great and her motivation wanes. « I’m expected to beat everyone else, » she said. « And usually I have beaten someone 10 times or so when I play them, so I know I can. »

Although she was frustrated by her loss to Mandlikova, whom she has beaten 11 times, Evert Lloyd conceeded that it was a good match for women’s tennis. « I’m real disappointed, but on the other hand, and funny enough, it’s good to see other players who are coming up beating the top players, putting pressure on us. »

That’s because the sport has been criticized for having only two dominant players. Perhaps Oakland is helping to change that image. « But if the No. 1 seeds keep getting killed here, who knows if they’ll keep coming, » said tournament aide Kevin Diamond. « One player we’re sure will come back is Hana. »

OFF COURT

 The battle of the sexes is back on the tennis court, but unlike the famous Dillle Jean King-Bobby Rlggs match 12 years ago, the women on the pro tour aren’t backing the latest gender war. « It wont prove anythlng,M said Chris Evert Lloyd of the upcomtng doubles match between Vitas Gerulal-tis Bobby Riggs and Martina Navrati-lovaPam Shrlver. « It was great when Blllie played Bobby Riggs and won. It was good for women’s tennis, » said Lloyd. « But I dont see what purpose this has except to be a good payday for w hoever wins. »

 « I think It’s stupid to even play it, » said Hana Mandlikova, ranked seventh in the world. « The men are so much better, you cant compare. It doesnt make any sense to play it. » 

« It’s like comparing apples and oranges. The top women put on a very good show. People come to watch our matches as much as the men’s matches. Events are already sold out for women’s tournaments. I dont know what the big argument is. »

Results

  • VIRGINIA SLIMS OF CALIFORNIA
  • Oakland, Ca., Feb. 18-24, 1985
  • $150,000 – Sporteze – Oakland Coliseum
  • singles seeded 6
  • R1 : + Barbara Gerken 6-2, 7-6 (5)
  • R2 : + Kim Shaefer 6-0, 6-1
  • QF : + Wendy Turnbull (2) 6-3, 6-4
  • SF : + Helena Sukova (3) 6-4, 6-0
  • F : + Chris Evert-Lloyd (1) 6-2, 6-4
  • doubles w/ Wendy Turnbull (3)
  • R1 : + Lea Antonopolis/ Sandy Collins 6-0, 6-2
  • QF : + Andrea Temesvari/ Anne White 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
  • SF : + Claudia Kohde-Kilsch/ Helena Sukova (1) 5-7, 7-5, 6-2
  • F : + Rosalyn Fairbanks/ Candy Reynolds (4) 4-6, 7-5, 6-1

Pas encore de lien externe ! :)