Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova played each other 80 times, and their 61st meeting, which took place in the 1984 U.S. Open finals, may have been the most intriguing.
It ended with Navratilova pulling out a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory, but there was more to the story than the final score.
Navratilova had beaten Evert 12 straight times coming into that match, and most of the results were one-sided. Navratilova had beaten Evert 6-3, 6-1 in the U.S. Open finals the previous year and had defeated Evert 6-1, 6-3 on Evert's best surface in the finals of the 1984 French Open.
More of the same was expected in the 1984 U.S. Open finals. Instead, the match became a turning point.
Evert did not win, but the greater variety and better stamina she displayed in that match at age 29 indicated the rivalry was no longer a one-sided affair. Evert beat Navratilova the next time they met, and the two competed on relatively even terms over the next four years.
The contrasting styles and friendship made all their matchups fascinating, but for this one, Navratilova was riding a 54-match winning streak, one shy of Evert's Open Era record.
When Evert broke through to win the first set, the crowd erupted.
It was "louder than anything I have ever experienced in my life," Evert said in an excerpt from Johnette Howard's book, The Rivals. "I remember walking off for the changeover thinking, 'I am finally going to do it.' And it seemed like everyone else thought so too."
Evert might have won her seventh U.S. Open title if she had taken advantage of an opportunity in the 10th game of the second set. She trailed 5-4, but hit three marvelous winners to get a double break point at 15-40 on Navratilova's serve.
Evert was unable to produce the big shot. Navratilova held serve to win the second set, then finished it off in the third. Despite the brilliant shot-making by both players, Evert felt she choked.
"It was the most devastated I've ever felt over a tennis match," she said in The Rivals.
Navratilova's winning streak would reach 74 before she lost to Helena Sukova in the Australian Open.