Navratilova reaches final, seeks to tie Evert's record for titles

November 10, 1991

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Second-seeded Martina Navratilova reached her fourth consecutive final with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over sixth-seeded Lori McNeil yesterday in the Virginia Slims of California.

Navratilova plays the winner of last night's other semifinal match between Monica Seles and Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere.

Navratilova beat McNeil for the eighth straight time since 1985, as she seeks to match Chris Evert's record of 157 tournament victories. Navratilova has 156.

"I know I'm going to break it, even if I have to play the Virginia Slims of Oakland," Navratilova said. "But I feel the pressure more playing against people I should beat."

In her past three finals, she has lost twice to Seles, including once at the U.S. Open, and once to Anke Huber, 16, of Germany.

But this time, it was McNeil who showed the effects of pressure.

With the players on serve in the first set, McNeil served two straight double faults at 3-4, allowing Navratilova to easily break and then serve out the set.

Navratilova maintained her attacking momentum and broke again in the first game of the second set. Another double-fault at a crucial time in the fifth game allowed Navratilova to break again. Navratilova, who put 78 percent of her first serves into play, went on to close out the match in 47 minutes.

Diet Pepsi Indoor Challenge

BIRMINGHAM, England -- Michael Chang recovered from a two-game deficit in the final set to win his semifinal against Richey Reneberg.

Chang, the top seed, reached his first tournament final this year by rallying to win the last six games of the match for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over the No. 3 seed.

He will play Guillaume Raoux in today's championship. Raoux beat sixth-seeded Thierry Champion, 6-3, 6-4, in an all-French semifinal.

Chang started slowly, having trouble with wildness on his groundstrokes. He trailed by 0-2 and 0-40 in the final set before regaining control.

"I think after the first set, Richey let up just a little bit, and I was able to get back into the match," Chang said. "He wasn't missing anything in the first set at all. Normally, he's really patient from the back, but today he was really aggressive the whole of the first set, which surprised me. I just tried to hang in there as best I could."

Kremlin Cup

MOSCOW -- Hometown favorite Andrei Cherkasov will defend his title against Jakob Hlasek of Switzerland today in the Kremlin Cup final.

A partisan crowd of more than 10,000 Muscovites cheered loudly as Cherkasov, 12, beat Marco Gorriz of Spain, 6-3, 6-4. Cherkasov is from the Russian city of Ufa.

"It's psychologically harder for me this year because of the pressure to repeat as champion," said Cherkasov, who beat Tim Mayotte last year in the first Kremlin Cup.

Hlasek defeated Cherkasov's doubles partner, eighth-seeded Alexander Volkov, 6-4, 6-2 in the other semifinal match at Moscow's Olympic Stadium.

ATP Finals

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Stefan Edberg dropped out of next week's eight-player ATP Finals because of tendinitis in a knee. Karel Novacek of Czechoslovakia will replace the Swede, who is ranked No. 1 in the world and was a finalist in the inaugural ATP Finals last year.

ATP officials said Edberg has been treating the knee during the last three weeks, but was advised to take at least two weeks off because of continued swelling.

"I feel it's important to deal with the injury now so I can be ready to go in 1992," Edberg said.

Jim Courier of Dade City, Fla., ranked second in the world, becomes the top seed in the event, in which the players initially are broken into two groups for round-robin play.

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