Navratilova still mixing it up
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Twenty-eight years after reaching her first Australian Open final, Martina Navratilova on Friday served her way into another.
Now a trim, toned 46-year-old, she partnered Leander Paes -- a one-year-old baby when she lost that final in 1975 to Evonne Goolagong-- to reach the mixed doubles championship decider.
It was a performance of skill and professionalism and one that rolled back the years.
Certainly defending champions Kevin Ullyett and Daniela Hantuchova had no answer to Navratilova and Paes's court craft and doubles acumen, the sentimental favorites running away with it 6-3, 6-1.
Once the muscular powerhouse of tennis, Navratilova now looks short and slight compared to the heavy-hitting giants of the modern game, but she has lost none of her guile and cunning around the net.
Paes and Navratilova will face Australia's Todd Woodbridge and Greece's Eleni Daniilidou on Sunday. Woodbridge and Daniilidou beat Donald Johnson and Australia's Rennae Stubbs 6-4, 6-2.
Navratilova leaped for overheads and volleyed with accuracy as she and Paes broke Ullyett once in the first set and twice in the second. They also broke Hantuchova once in each set.
Navratilova was broken once in the first set.
Paes won the last two points with a forehand volley and a service return down the line. But he left some tough chances to Navratilova, calling out, "Yours, Martina!''
Navratilova won her 56th Grand Slam title in 1995, teaming with Jonathan Stark to win the mixed doubles at Wimbledon. She won the last of her 18 major singles titles in Wimbledon in 1990. Navratilova quit tennis in 1994 but returned six years later to play occasional doubles.
On Jan. 4, Navratilova won her 167th doubles title with with 17-year-old Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova at Gold Coast, Australia.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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