Hana Mandlikova and Martina Navratilova went the distance in the 1985 US Open final.
Through the first half of the 1980s, Chris Evert and Navratilova dominated the Grand Slam landscape, trading titles seemingly between themselves on every surface.
One of the few players that was able to break the stranglehold was Mandlikova, the gifted all-courter from Czechoslovakia who won majors in 1980 and ’81. By the time of the 1985 US Open, though, it had been three years since she reached a Grand Slam final: the most recent coming in 1982 in New York.
Making up for lost time, the number-three seed behind Evert and Navratilova advanced to the US Open championship match for the third time in her career, with her run including a three-set victory over Evert in the semifinals. Next up for the Czech would be Navratilova, whom she had lost to in eight of their previous 10 matches.
Widely considered inconsistent and brilliant, the first set showcased both sides of Mandlikova’s game. The 23-year-old raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set before Navratilova rallied to force a tiebreak. However, Mandlikova was able to hold off the world No. 2’s charge to clinch the breaker 7-3.
In the second set, everything that was working so well for the world No. 3 went by the wayside. Combined with more pressure from Navratilova and the set was over soon after it began, with the two-time defending champion winning it 6-1.
The decider saw both players settle into a groove, and like the first, they worked their way into a tiebreak. Sensing that her first US Open title was only a few points away, Mandlikova raced out to another big lead, going up 6-0. Serving at 6-2, a perfectly placed volley winner clinched the title as she pulled off the rare feat of beating Evert and Navratilova in the same tournament.
This was the first final-round meeting between Mandlikova and Navratilova on a hard court. Their four other finals came on grass, clay and carpet with Navratilova winning three of them.
Mandlikova’s third career Grand Slam singles title came on a third different surface, following her 1980 win on grass at the Australian Open and her 1981 triumph at the French Open on clay.
The last time Mandlikova won a hard-court singles title was four years earlier in 1981, when she took first place in Mahwah, N.J.
Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias