FAIRFAX, Va. -- Hana Mandlikova finally put an end to Barbara Potter's run of thwarted match points.
Potter wiped out of total of seven match points in spirited come-from-behind victories against Sylvia Hanika and Zina Garrison to earn a berth in the finals of the $150,000 Virginia Slims of Washington. She staved off one more against Mandlikova in the final Sunday night before Mandlikova broke the string.
The top-seeded Mandlikova, of Czechoslovakia, downed the unseeded Potter 6-4, 6-2 to become the first three-tournament winner in 1987, adding this victory to her Brisbane and Australian Open triumphs.
'I've had a good start to 1987. I won a Grand Slam tournament (the Australian Open) and another two tournaments. I feel that I'm playing as well as I can,' said Mandlikova, who increased her career earnings to $2,881,990, third highest in women's tennis history.
Mandlikova used a near-flawless service game, suffering just one break in nine service games, and broke the strong-serving Potter on four of her last six service games in winning the battle of aggressive serve-and-volleyers Sunday. Mandlikova kept the charging Potter, ranked 35th in the world, off-balance with accurate passing shots.
'My game is at a very high level,' said Mandlikova. 'It's very important that I serve very well -- and I improved in every match this week.'
Mandlikova needed just 75 minutes to cap a tournament in which she won every set of her five matches. Potter is making a comeback from a seven-month tour absence due to back injury.
Mandlikova, ranked fourth in the world, upped her record against Potter to 7-0 and collected the $30,500 first place prize money. Mandlikova has won the Virginia Slims of Washington twice in the past four years.
Mandlikova beat Helena Sukova in the semifinals and Kathy Rinaldi in the quarterfinals enroute to her 27th career singles title.
Potter, of Woodbury, Conn., surrendered just one point in her first three service games. Mandlikova, after a disputed line call went Potter's way on the second point of the seventh game, won the next three points, earning a break at 15 on a sharp forehand passing shot.
Mandlikova recorded service breaks in Potter's first three service games of the second set to take a 5-0 lead. She broke Potter at 30 in the first game on a wide Potter lob, and at love in the third game when Potter set a backhand long and in 15 points in the five game on a soft forehand winner.
Potter staved off one match point and broke Mandlikova for the only time in the match in the sixth game, which was the only service game Mandlikova allowed to go to a duece. She served out the match in the eighth game, winning the championship when Potter netted a soft drop shot at the net.
'It's a little bit easy to lose your game plan against Hana,' said Potter. 'I think I did in the early part of the second set. First of all, my first serve percentage dropped way off and she just beat up on my second serve.'
'I think I was a bit discombobulated, quite frankly. I thought she played superior tennis,' Potter added.
Potter won the Virginia Slims of Kansas last month as she continues to build momentum after operations for two herniated disks in her back. Potter collected $13,800 for second place.