Martina Navratilova became tennis' all-time singles titles leader the hard way, edging Jana Novotna 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-5 in the finals of the Virginia Slims of Chicago tournament.
Navratilova won her 158th career singles championship and 12th Chicago Slims crown. She and Chris Evert, who retired in 1989, had been tied with 157 singles titles. Jimmy Connors is the men's all-time leader with 109 singles championships.
"I was preparing my loser's speech during the match," Navratilova said. "I had to tell myself I could come back. I said, "If I can't break the record in Chicago, where can I break it?' "
Navratilova, who doesn't plan to retire soon, said she expects her record to stand for a long time because the tour is more of a grind than it was when she started.
It looked like Novotna would pull off her second consecutive upset and in similar fashion; she lost the opening set to top-seed Steffi Graf before winning Saturday night's semifinal.
Novotna was ahead 5-4 in the deciding set and forced Navratilova, the No. 2 seed, to match point twice in the 10th game.
But Navratilova rallied and third-seed Novotna double faulted to lose her service.
Becker outlasts Courier to win final in five sets
BRUSSELS, Belgium _ Boris Becker rallied from a two-set deficit and beat Jim Courier in five sets in the Donnay Indoor Championship Sunday.
In a 4-hour, 54-minute match, Becker beat Courier 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 7-6 (12-10), 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.
Despite the defeat, Courier continues as the world's No. 1 player, a distinction he earned last week.
Both players survived match points.
Courier, a Dade City resident, was on the brink of victory in the third-set tiebreaker but was slowly worn down by Becker.
Becker, who had won all three of their previous matches, played the riskier tennis of the two, serving twice as many aces as Courier. But Becker also made twice as many unforced errors.
In the first-set tiebreaker, a perfect lob and a lucky deflection off the net gave Courier a 6-3 lead. Becker, a former top-ranked player who is now fifth in the world, saved two set points but misjudged a backhand return, enabling Courier to win the tiebreaker.
Becker fought back hard in the third set. Games went with serve until the tiebreaker, when Courier squandered three match points and Becker needed three set points to win.
Former NCAA champ Washington wins title
MEMPHIS, Tenn. _ Malivai Washington completed an impressive run to his first professional title with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Wayne Ferreira in the Federal Express International.
Washington, the 1989 NCAA singles champion, never let his opponent get his power game in gear, using strong baseline strokes and well-timed net rushes.