PARIS -- Martina Navratilova, convinced she's the best woman tennis player in the world, wants only to make her supremacy official by regaining top ranking from teenager Steffi Graf.
Navratilova, 31, and Graf, 18, sailed into the third round of the French Open tennis tournament Wednesday and are favored to meet in the final for the second consecutive year.
Graf, the defending champion and No.1 seed, breezed American Ronnie Reis 6-1, 6-0, and Navratilova, the second seed, qualified for the third round when Hellas Ter Riet withdrew with an upset stomach in the second set with Navratilova leading 2-0. Navratilova won the first set 6-0.
It was on the soft red clay of Roland Garros last year that Graf won her first Grand Slam tournament and took a major step toward stripping Navratilova of the No. 1 ranking that she had held for five years. Graf went on to grab the top spot in August 1987 and has held it ever since.
But Navratilova, who has lost in the finals of the French Open for the past three years, said she feels better now than she has in more than a year and is ready to reclaim her top ranking. She stopped playing basketball last autumn and says her knees don't ache so much now.
'I'm still convinced I'm a better player than anyone else out there. I still think I'm the best player overall,' said the native of Czechoslovakia who became an American citizen in 1981.
'I'm more versatile than anybody else out there. I think I'm just a little better at doing everything, at not having any weaknesses.'
Graf, shrugged when told of Navratilova's remarks.
'She can say what she thinks,' said Graf. 'If I play my best, she'd better watch out.'
Chris Evert, the third seed in Paris and Navratilova's old rival, said 'it's too early to tell right now' if Navratilova will be able to live up to her comments.
'Martina will say it if she's No. 5 in the world, she's just very confident of her ability,' said Evert, who lost to Navratilova in the 1984 French Open finals but beat her in the championship match in the following two years.
'I still think it's too early for her to make a statement like that,' she said, looking to the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to settle who is best.
'I feel younger now than I did a year ago. I'm pain free,' said Navratilova, who was No. 1 worldwide in the year-end rankings in 1978, 1979 and 1982 through 1986. 'I'm healthy. I don't feel that anything's lacking.
'I want to be No. 1.'