News from 2002

12/20/02 Seles heads for Hong Kong
Former world number one Monica Seles will head the field for the Hong Kong Ladies Challenge tennis exhibition from January 1-4, the event organisers said on Friday.

Seles, ranked seven in the world, will be joined by fellow Americans Chanda Rubin and Alexandra Stevenson, ranked 13 and 18 respectively, and Bulgarian star Magdalena Maleeva.

Seles, the number one seed and nine-time grand slam champion, will clash with 16 year old Chinese sensation Peng Shuai in her opening match.

"With the level of tennis today there are no easy matches, so I've been training hard for the new season. I've heard great things about Peng and I am really looking forward to a competitive match," Seles said in a statement released by the event organisers.

Florida-based Peng, ranked 359 in the world, has been tipped to become China's first female player to be ranked in the world's top 20.

"I guess I'm excited and nervous at the same time, but it will be a great experience for me to play against such a great champion," Peng said in a statement.

A trio of Russians will also be hoping to win the exhibition to boost their confidence ahead of the first grand slam tournament of the year later that month, the Australian Open.

Former Olympic silver medallist and last year's losing finalist, Elena Dementieva, will be hoping to go one better this year. The Russian will face off against Rubin in a tough first round matchup.

Anastasia Myskina, 21, who won her second career title in Bahia en route to climbing to number 11 in the world rankings, will meet former Wimbledon semifinalist Stevenson in her opening match.

Promising 15 year old Russian Maria Sharapova will take on Bulgarian veteran Maleeva in the opening round.

12/15/02 Kournikova beats Seles in exhibition tennis match in Winnipeg
By SCOTT EDMONDS, Canadian Press

WINNIPEG (CP) - One remains near the top of her game, the other still struggling to rise through the ranks, but two of tennis' top female stars say it's a pleasure to play exhibition games that raise the profile of their sport. "To make people aware of tennis everywhere, that's cool," said Anna Kournikova, currently ranked 35th in the world.

"It's great to come to an area like Winnipeg where really they don't see much women's tennis and do something for the kids and hopefully inspire them to pick up the sport," said Monica Seles, the seventh ranked player.

"They usually get to see us on TV and it's so different (live). You realize how much harder the ball is being hit."

Kournikova defeated Seles 6-4, 7-5 in an exhibition match Sunday at the Winnipeg Arena.

Exhibition tennis isn't quite the dog-eat-dog world of the money game so Kournikova's victory was only fair. The night before, Seles defeated her rival 7-6, 6-4 before a larger crowd of 9,244 in St. Paul, Minn.

The Winnipeg event generated plenty of hype during the last three months, although advance ticket sales were just over the break-even point of around 4,000, although another 1,000 or more showed up Sunday.

One Winnipeg newspaper even ran a Kournikova look-alike contest, which was won by a local bartender who did have a striking resemblance to the current glamour queen of pro tennis.

It wasn't exactly a champagne and strawberries crowd at the Winnipeg Arena Sunday, more hot dogs and beer.

But then the Winnipeg Arena, home of the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League, is a far cry from Wimbledon.

"I don't think I've sat through a whole match (on TV) and I thought if I saw it live I'd have a greater appreciation of it," said Sean Gray, 23, who paid $110 for two tickets.

"When's the next opportunity I'm going to get to see that calibre?"

He said he's pretty bad at the game but might even give tennis another try himself next summer.

The temporary tennis court was supplied by Toronto-based Tennex Systems Inc. It was a centimetre-thick rubber court that was laid over plywood which covered the ice surface in the arena.

The event promoter said it's the first professional tennis match in the city since Boris Becker played Kevin Curren in 1987.

At a brief news conference before they played, Kournikova dodged any questions about her personal life.

"I'm here to play," she said.

"Maybe I can get a boyfriend here," she added with a smile.

Kournikova, a former junior champ, suggested her No. 35 ranking isn't bad, "considering I started the year at 99 after being off for eight months."

"There's still four weeks to go but hopefully, I'll stay healthy."Break

Unlike Kournikova, Seles soon dominated the women's tennis world when she made the jump from junior ranks, until she was stabbed in the back by a crazed fan of Steffi Graf while playing in Germany in 1993. She returned to the game in 1995.

This year, the 29-year-old has two tournament titles and an overall record of 46-13 compared with Kournikova's 28-24. Seles' best season since her return was 2000, when she finished ranked 4th in the world.

The warm-up acts Sunday included a match between Canadian pros Vanessa Webb and Sonya Jeyaseelan, who then paired with Seles and Kournikova in a doubles match.

The opportunities for exhibition games are few and far between. Some, such as the Williams sisters who currently dominate women's tennis, refuse to play them.

For those willing, top players are barred from exhibitions during the 35 weeks of the year there are either Grand Slam, Tier one or Tier two tournaments. There are also restrictions on exhibitions in cities that host big-name events.

Both women live in Florida and said their knowledge of Winnipeg consisted of the Winnipeg Jets - now the Phoenix Coyotes - and Winnie the Pooh.

Kournikova, 21, a Moscow native, also said she had hoped to see some snow on her visit north. "This year I didn't get to see snow yet and I was hoping to see it here but I guess I won't."

Winnipeg is unseasonably warm and there isn't enough white stuff in town to make a decent snowball.


12/15/02 Seles Remains a Kournikova Supporter
By DAVE CAMPBELL, AP Sports Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The fact that Anna Kournikova has achieved widespread fame without winning a single tournament causes resentment among many players on the women's tour.

Monica Seles isn't one of them.

After beating Kournikova 7-6 (7-6), 6-4 Saturday night in the Minnesota Tennis Challenge, Seles scoffed at the suggestion that there's any animosity toward the 21-year-old Russian, whose known more for her beauty than her forehand.

"I don't think there's animosity. My gosh, that's a strong word to use," Seles said after the exhibition match. "She's dedicated her life to this sport. She's one of the hardest workers on tour."

And if Kournikova's fame is based on a pretty face, not a French Open or a Wimbledon title?

"It's understandable," said Seles. "But she's a gorgeous girl. What can she do about that? She can't just hide her face."

Seles pointed out that Kournikova was ranked as high as eighth in May 2001 before an ankle injury slowed her down. Now 35th in the WTA rankings, Kournikova is getting ready for the 2003 season. She hasn't won a Grand Slam singles match since the 2001 Australian Open.

Her goal?

"To stay healthy, go back and try to play a full season this time," Kournikova said.

The same goes for Seles, the nine-time Grand Slam winner who was hampered by a foot injury this year and lost in the quarterfinals in each of the last three majors. She's ranked seventh.

"The offseason is not very long," Seles said. "You basically have to start training right away. I'm pretty much healed, but we don't have much time. It's very tough to come back from an injury because the ranking system is so brutal."

The 29-year-old Seles had her return game working well and served three aces to finish off Kournikova in the final game. She looks ready for a full schedule in 2003 and doesn't seem to be thinking about retirement.

"As long as she's still having success, I don't see why she won't continue," said Tony Godsick, Seles' agent. "She hasn't said anything to me about it."

Seles and Kournikova have played each other in a number of exhibitions. They left St. Paul on Saturday night for Canada, where they were scheduled to play Sunday in Winnipeg.

"It's tiring, but these matches are great," Seles said. "It's a relaxed atmosphere where we can work on our game a little bit."

It also gives Kournikova, who grew up as a huge Seles fan, a chance to pick up a few pointers.

"It's amazing to play against Monica," Kournikova said. "It's like the best feeling in the world."


12/14/02 Seles looks strong in exhibition win over Kournikova
By Dave Campbell, Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Monica Seles showed no effects of the foot injury that hampered her last season and beat Anna Kournikova 7-6 (6), 6-4 Saturday night in the Minnesota Tennis Challenge.

A crowd of 9,244 showed up for the exhibition at the Xcel Energy Center.

Seles, who finished the 2002 season ranked No. 7 on the WTA tour, had her return game working well and served three aces in the final game to finish off Kournikova.

Just because the match was an exhibition didn't mean Seles and Kournikova didn't care.

Kournikova, who led 5-3 in the first set, slammed a ball into the net after losing a point during the tiebreaker and earlier glared at the umpire when he read the score wrong.

''It's 30-all,'' she said with a shake of her head and a slight roll of her eyes.

Kournikova, ranked No. 35 and known more for her bare midriff than her success on tour, kept Seles busy on the baseline but faded in the second set.

Still searching for her first tour title, Kournikova will play in the Sydney International in January to tune up for the Australian Open.

Though Seles is eight years older and far more accomplished than Kournikova, the two are friends and have faced off in a number of exhibitions. They left St. Paul on Saturday night for Canada, where they were scheduled to play Sunday in another friendly in Winnipeg.

This was the first match in the Twin Cities area involving major pro players since Team USA beat Sweden in 1992 Davis Cup competition in Minneapolis.

The inexperience showed. A couple fans were chided by the umpire for yelling just before a serve, and Kournikova was annoyed on more than one occasion by ballgirls and judges being out of position.

Kournikova had never played in Minnesota before, and the last time Seles competed here was in a 1991 exhibition against Mary Jo Fernandez. Seles was the top-ranked player in the world at the time.

As a prelude, the flamboyant doubles duo of Luke and Murphy Jensen wearing Minnesota Wild jerseys and wireless microphones faced the University of Minnesota's top doubles team in an eight-game pro set.

Aleksey Zharinov and Thomas Haug overcame a constant stream of good-natured taunting and ''won'' 8-7.

After an unforced error by Zharinov, Luke Jensen said, ''I'm sorry, Gophers. Is the net high?''

Murphy responded, ''That's only the second point, Luke.''

''I know, but it's going good,'' Jensen said.

David Wheaton, a Minnesotan who played 13 years on the ATP tour and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 1991, was the emcee.

Once during the doubles match, Wheaton asked the Jensens, ''What do you think Anna's doing right now? Doing her hair?''

Wheaton, who's growing a bit thin on top, didn't know Kournikova was watching.

''I'm sorry you don't have any hair to do,'' she said with a laugh.

The event also included abridged matches between some of the state's top girls and boys players as well as a ''celebrity'' doubles competition mixing the Jensens with a pair of Twin Cities radio deejays.

Former Vikings defensive end Carl Eller, one of the ''Purple People Eaters,'' had a courtside seat.


12/13/02 Kournikova faces Seles in tennis exhibition

It's Christmastime in Minnesota. The kids get to visit Santa, but on Saturday night, males aged 15 to 50 will get a visit from Anna.

Yep, it's true; Anna's comin' to town.

But guys, don't even think about sitting on Anna's lap for your Christmas wish. She's got attitude aplenty. Need proof? How about the reported rebuff from a teenage Anna to pestering teenage boys on the grounds of Wimbledon a few years ago: "Forget it boys, you can't afford me."

Anna Kournikova, the 21-year-old Russian supermodel -- who somehow finds time to squeeze in tennis matches between photo shoots -- will take on someone named Monica Seles at 8 p.m. Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Monica, by the way, has won nine Grand Slam titles in her career, but who's counting? Certainly not Anna, who has never won a singles title of any kind as a pro.

But who cares? Style counts for everything nowadays, right? I did an Internet search the other day for Anna Kournikova -- to read the articles, of course. Evidently, I had just tallied another hit for the most hit-on athlete on the Web. Put it this way: There were a lot of sites with provocative sights.

To cite just a few: the Anna workout video, the calendar, the magazine covers, the Enrique Iglesias (current boyfriend) music video. It's the stuff that propels her into being the most popular and well-endorsed female athlete on the planet.

Tennis suffers

But she's not the best tennis player. Reaching a player's potential in the world of professional tennis takes a single-mindedness that most people can't even fathom. Juggling tennis and celebrity is next to impossible -- even Andre Agassi toned down his off-court bling-bling to make a run at the top. The rub occurs when the dollars (all right, millions of them) are rolling in and the choice is between a Cosmo cover and another bucket of practice serves. Which would you choose?

Anna's choosing both. A tremendous athlete (in case you didn't notice), Anna has the pedigree, an aggressive all-court game, and even some solid stats: world junior champ, a top pro ranking of No. 8 in singles and No. 1 in doubles, Wimbledon semifinalist in singles. Those credentials help offset the "never-won-a-tournament" moniker that shadows her. Even better results would be a cinch with more on-court action and less off-court distraction.

Seles changes path

Maybe she can take a lesson from Saturday's opponent. Monica was flinging flowers to the faithful as she entered Stade Roland Garros in Paris in the early 1990s. And why not? She had witnessed first-hand the blossoming maven of marketability -- (Image is Everything) Agassi -- at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Monica emigrated there from Yugoslavia with her family when she was only 12. Monica's fling with flaunting was short-lived -- she has way too much substance to focus on style.

I watched this little girl smash and grunt (loud!) her way through literally millions of tennis balls fed to her by a ball machine day after day, year after year, under the watchful eyes of her dad, brother, and Bollettieri at the Tennis Academy. And as if that weren't enough, she would hit them over a strategically placed shopping cart to work on her shot depth. Her work ethic was exceptional, her concentration phenomenal.

Academy legend has it that she sneaked out to hit against a backboard in the dark of night after she was ordered to rest from an injury. When I was at the know-nothing age of 17, I made my greatest prediction, albeit an obvious one: "She'll be No. 1 in the world someday." And she was, for three years.

And she could have been there for many more years. At the top of the tennis world in 1993, some wacko jumped out of the stands during one of Monica's matches in Hamburg, Germany, and stabbed her in the back with a knife.

The reason? He was a Steffi Graf fan and wanted to see Steffi her regain the top spot.

The back stabber got his wish. While not seriously injured, Monica was emotionally scarred from the attack. And who wouldn't be? It's tough enough taking on your opponent, let alone a deranged fan hurdling the court barrier to stick you with a knife.

She didn't play for two years in the prime of her career, dealing with depression, a not-guilty verdict for her attacker, and the stomach cancer that would eventually take her beloved father's life -- the same artist father who drew cartoons on tennis balls to make the game fun. (Tennis parents: take note.)

Monica fights back

It should come as little surprise that when she did return to the tour in 1995, she won her first tournament handily and then proceeded all the way to the final of the U.S. Open before falling to -- you guessed it, Steffi. Give up? Slink away? Forget it. Monica won the next Grand Slam event she played, the Australian Open in 1996.

Monica doesn't sprinkle sugar on her Wheaties; she garnishes it with rusty tacks. There certainly have been better athletes than Monica, but show me a better competitor. I have never seen her give anything less than her best on every point of every match. That's substance.

Now 29 years old, an American citizen, and ranked seventh in the world, Monica still approaches her craft with the same determination. On Saturday night, as she always has, Monica will stand up on the baseline and whack two-handed drives from corner to corner. She'll play fearlessly on the important points. Heck, she'll even go for more.

Lessons all around to be learned by the darling diva. Better watch out, Anna, Monica's comin' to town, too!

Minnesota's David Wheaton, like Anna, was a Wimbledon semifinalist. Somehow, though, he graced far fewer magazine covers. While still http://www.davidwheaton.com.


Article courtesy of Star Tribune


12/11/02 Davenport answers challenge with crisp victory over Seles
The event is about donating proceeds to area children's charities by the Baltimore community.

In excess of $3 million has been raised since new Hall of Famer Pam Shriver inaugurated the Chevy Chase Bank Tennis Challenge 17 years ago and celebrities from the tennis world responded to the cause with their time and talent.

But mere exhibition matches they are not. When the umpire says "play," the competitors are all business.

"We go out there and try the hardest," said Lindsay Davenport, who defeated Monica Seles, 6-4, 6-4, in the feature match. "There's no pressure and you play for fun, but we didn't come here to lose."

She obviously meant what she said. The 26-year-old from California cashed in on the third match point with a passing shot to end a crisp, tactical match that was fondly appreciated by a 1st Mariner Arena crowd announced at 8,000.

After trading service breaks early, Davenport broke Seles in the 10th game to capture the first set.

The first game of the second set went to deuce three times before Davenport held serve, a pattern that continued until the final game when Seles fended off two match points before losing

"Unfortunately, they don't have a women's tournament here," Davenport said. "This is a little opportunity to bring some women's tennis to Baltimore."

With "coach" Adalius Thomas of the Ravens supplying the comic relief, Davenport and first-time player Gary Matthews of the Orioles defeated seven-time winner Brady Anderson and Seles in the final match, 5-4, in a tiebreaker.

Thomas once asked for an instant replay and questioned a 15-30 score by saying, "I got 9:30," on his watch.

Anderson recently signed a minor-league contract with the San Diego Padres, but the former Orioles outfielder said beforehand, "I am not going to be a minor-leaguer."

In the Smith-Barney Legends of Tennis Match, Patrick McEnroe and Jana Novotna scored the only service break and downed Bethesda native Richey Reneberg and fan favorite Martina Navratilova, 8-5.

McEnroe, the U.S. Davis Cup team captain, played to the crowd by flinging his racket after a poor shot and questioning a linesman's call, but it was all in the spirit of levity.

Novotna, who retired in 1999, is best known for a rare Wimbledon sweep, capturing both the women's singles and doubles titles in 1998. But Navratilova, Shriver's longtime doubles partner and one of the greatest players of all time, was the people's choice.

The tandem won a record 109 consecutive matches and just last May Navratilova won the 166th doubles crown of her career at age 45.

The evening was punctuated when a banner was spotlighted that will hang permanently at the arena. It read: "Pam Shriver, July 13, 2002, International Hall of Fame."

"It's a big surprise to me," Shriver said. "A banner is extraordinary in an individual sport like tennis."

In conjunction with that honor, a proclamation from Mayor Martin O'Malley's office designated yesterday as Pam Shriver Day in Baltimore.

"I can't believe this is in the 17th year," Navratilova said. "If she [Shriver] doesn't do anything the rest of her life after raising over $3 million, she's done her part."

Article courtesy of The Baltimore Sun


12/11/02 Seles, Pierce for WTA event in Hyderabad
KOLKATA: Former world No. 1 Monica Seles and former French Open champion Mary Pierce will be part of a star-studded line-up for the first ever WTA event in India.Hyderabad will become an international tennis hotspot from February 3-9 as it will host the ninth event of the women's tour.

The WTA event in Hyderabad will be a Tier IV championship. It means players who are ranked between 60 and 150 will be allowed to participate. Seles and Pierce, although they are ranked several rungs above the Tier IV limit, will participate by virtue of a "gold exempt."

The event will be organised by Globosport, a company wholly owned by Indian Davis Cup star Mahesh Bhupathi. Confirming that Hyderabad will host the WTA event, Krishna Bhupathi, Mahesh's father, added: "The tournament will be a $140,000 prize money championship. It will be a great boost for women's tennis in India."

The senior Bhupathi said his son was going "all-out" to make the event a big success. "He has been talking to several top stars. Pierce is surely going to come and Seles is almost a certainty."

Among the other top-ranked women will be Clarisa Fernandez. The Argentina had made the French Open semis before bowing out to Venus Williams. Top Uzbek Iroda Tulyaganova will spearhead the Asian challenge.

There will be three wildcards, of which one is certainly going to go to the talented Sania Mirza.

Article courtesy of The Times of India


12/10/02 Seles' Baltimore return about fun, fans, family
The first time Monica Seles came to Baltimore to play in what is now called the Chevy Chase Bank Tennis Challenge, she was a 16-year-old, in her second year on the pro tour and the winner of just one Grand Slam tournament. Now, 12 years later, Seles is a mature, reflective woman, the possessor of 11 Grand Slam titles and more dedicated than ever to the game.

"I call these my gravy years," Seles said from Dublin, Ireland, where she and Lindsay Davenport, her opponent here tonight, were in an international competition last week. "I have nothing left to prove. I have fun and really enjoy it. I hope the fans are enjoying watching me play. And, hopefully, the little kids will see the delight I am getting from the game and want to play because they see how much fun it is."

For Seles, part of the fun will come when she makes her fourth appearance in the Tennis Challenge, the creation of Baltimore's retired Hall of Fame player, Pam Shriver.

Seventh-ranked Seles will play No. 12 Davenport in the main singles event, preceded by the Smith Barney Legends of Tennis Match and followed by the Orioles Challenge Match.

Seles said she is looking forward to helping out Shriver, her friend, once more.

"Gosh, Pam and I go way back," Seles said. "We even competed against each other - I don't want to think how far back. And I've played her event and it's a wonderful event. I think it is the best, in terms of a celebrity match. She has great athletes playing - Brady [Anderson] plays some great tennis - and there is a great atmosphere there. The crowd just seems to love it and comes year after year.

"I love helping her, because she's made an exceptional transition from the game, given back to the sport we both love and done so much for children in Baltimore with this event. She's definitely a role model."

Shriver and Seles first hit tennis balls together in practice at Wimbledon in 1989. At the time, Shriver said, it seemed unlikely that a real friendship would develop.

"It's this way with a lot of tennis players," Shriver said. "In the beginning, you see only the differences, the age difference, being from different countries, the way you play the game. Then, as you get older, you see the 11 years between us mean nothing, you see that you both love the game and, in our case, we developed a bond because we both lost loved ones about the same time. Now, we're at the stage where we see all the similarities, not the differences."

Seles remembers being warmly welcomed by Shriver and her family from the moment she first set foot in Baltimore.

"I played Jennifer [Capriati] there," Seles said. "She was 15 and I was 16, and it was just fun. And I met Pam's grandmother [who bought Seles' racket at the event's charity auction]. She has been a big supporter of mine from that time, and it was a time, in those early years, when I didn't have many fans.

"Then later, Pam lost her sister Marion and I lost my father [six months apart in 1998]. It was nice to have someone who could relate. It was nice to talk to her. And now, to see Pam so happy with George [Lazenby], it's wonderful. It's a very happy stage in her life with her new husband and being inducted into the Hall of Fame."

It's also a happy stage of life for Seles.

She saw Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario retire earlier this year, but said that did not spur her to follow the Spaniard's path.

"Arantxa is in a different stage in her life," said Seles, a former world No. 1. "She's two years older than me. As long as I can play Top 10, I'll play. The last three, four years have been good, except for a foot problem. But I'm injury-free now. And to have a good solid year like this is very encouraging. I know I have another three or four years if I want them. Retirement, it's not even crossing my mind. I'm just going out there because I love it."

Article courtesy of The Baltimore Sun


12/07/02 Ace Seles serves up finishing course in super tennis feast
THE five break points saved and seven deuces survived by Monica Seles in the roller coaster eight game of the second set neatly encapsulated the tremendously competitive and highly dramatic nature of the opening doubles in last night's Europe/USA showdown at the RDS.

Seles, partnered by fellow singles former world number one Lindsey Davenport, eventually held service in that titanic game against Europe's Iva Majoli and Barbara Schett to take a 5-3 lead.

But that didn't prove the only similar nerve jangling game during the course of a richly absorbing 88 minutes of action which eventually saw the American pairing prevail on a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1, to give the Americans a 3-0 lead.

Seles was also involved in a serving capacity in the third game of the first set, when she was forced to save three break points and survive five deuces. Ironically, however, the Yugoslav born player was the only member of the quarted on court not to have her serve broken.

Exhibition matches obviously enough are not always for real, and it occasionally happens that a stronger player will 'carry' a weaker opponent to extend a game beyond its normal time span as a means of sustaining the interests of the fans.

But there was certainly nothing contrived about last night's curtain raiser. All four players performed with tremendous verve, energy and commitment throughout, and as a result the fans were treated to a truly magnificent spectacle.

The authenticity of the contest was underlined in the 12th game of the second set which the American duo could easily let go to a third set if they had so desired.

After a tremendous piece of all out ground stroke slugging by Seles and Majoli on the baseline, Schett forced a wide forehand off Davenport, and that resulted in a point for the second set for the European pairing at 30-40.

Another point in the host's continent favour would of course have levelled the match at one set each. But Seles forced a netted forehand from Majoli to level at deuce.

And after 1997 French open singles champion Majoli had returned a service wide, Seles levelled the second set at 6-6 thanks to a stunning ace to Austrian Schett.

That resulted in a tie break in which the issue was never in any doubt. Croatian Majoli served a double fault to provide the Americans with a 3-1 lead, and then the same player made another inexplicable error when misjudged a return from Seles which just landed inside the baseline.

A backhand winner from Davenport stretched the Americans' lead to 5-1, but Schett provided the Europeans with some hope when she forced a netted return off Davenport for 2-5.

However, Schett lost the next two points in her serve, Davenport putting away a forehand volley and then Seles following up with a fiercely driven back hand volley down the middle of the court.

The two Europeans were disappointed with the result but they were unsurprisingly quite pleased with their performance in the second set.

"It was a very difficult match for us because we've only played together three times before, and of course in Monica and Lindsay, we wre up against two of the top players in the world," said Majoli, who although being the first player to serve an ace was also the first to lose her serve on the second break point to provide the Americans with a 3-1 lead in the first set.


12/05/02 Tennis stars stage charity event
Top international women tennis stars were today preparing to compete in a three-day charity tournament in Dublin.

Pin-up stars Anna Kournikova and Barbara Schett were amongst those playing at Dublin`s RDS centre, in an event expected to raise 500,000 euro (£318,500) for a children`s charity.

Players last night marked the start of the Trilogy event in aid of the Chernobyl Children`s Project when they took to the catwalk alongside supermodels Tyra Banks, Jodie Kidd and Sophie Dahl.

Irish models such as Natasha Byram, Vivienne Connolly and Lizanna Kirwan were also among those modelling with the international sports stars.

Tennis aces were tonight moving back to the courts for the start of the Europe v USA tennis section of the Trilogy.

This evening Lindsay Davenport was taking on Barbara Schett, with Monica Seles facing Anna Kournikova. Other tennis stars in Dublin for the event include Serena and Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Iva Majoli.

Winners of an Irish radio show were to play their tennis heroes at the opening night of the tennis tournament. Dave Crenin, 26, of Cork, was to take on Anna Kournikova, while 12-year-old Emily Burke of Kilkenny was to play Barbara Schett.

The Collins Cup is modelled on golf`s Ryder Cup, with all sportswomen taking part on a voluntary basis. Some 40% of proceeds from the event are to be donated to the Chernobyl project.

The 3.6million euro (£2.3m) festival was originally to have incorporated music as well as fashion and tennis, but organisers were unable to secure a major music act.


12/05/02 Monica enters Toray Pan Pacific Open
TOKYO - Jennifer Capriati heads the field for next year's $1.3 million Toray Pan Pacific Open.

Organizers said Thursday that Capriati, defending champion Martina Hingis and two-time winner Lindsay Davenport also will compete at the tournament, scheduled for Jan. 28-Feb. 2.

The 26-year-old Capriati, ranked No. 3 in the world, will make her debut in the event.

Monica Seles, Yugoslavia's Jelena Dokic and Russia's Anna Kournikova also will participate. Japan's Ai Sugiyama and Saori Obata will represent the host nation.

11/27/02 All systems go for Trilogy event
Organisers of next week's Dublin Trilogy tennis, fashion and music event have today announced further details for the extravaganza which will see a host of stars from the world of tennis and fashion descend on the capital's RDS. Propriety Management, the organisers of The Trilogy, have confirmed they were unable to secure an A list act for the music leg of the unique event, but as a result the big name models will be joined by six of the competing tennis players on the catwalk for a Fashion Show on Wednesday, December 4.

The following day will see the start of a Ryder Cup style event pitching Europe's best against the USA's finest for the Collins Cup, with three days of action featuring the Venus and Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati and Jelena Dokic. Sean Collins, Managing Director of Propriety Management, confirmed the world's top women's tennis players had reported fit and well and will be arriving in Dublin from Monday next. He said: "Everything is in place and Dublin will see the top stars of tennis and fashion next week."

Collins said the music element of The Trilogy was being rolled into the Fashion Show which will be a 'spectacular event'. The Irish group Anuna, currently appearing in New York, are being flown to Dublin to present a spectacular Celtic Suite at the Fashion Show. The decision to combine the fashion and music elements of The Trilogy was taken in the past week. He added: "The whole concept of The Trilogy was to bring the biggest stars in tennis, fashion and music to Dublin. We have done this with the tennis and fashion elements. When it became clear to us that the very top pop music act would not be available to come to Dublin at this time we decided, very reluctantly, to combine the fashion and music into one spectacular event."

The show, produced by Julian Benson, will include a runway presentation of top Irish and international designers including Escada, John Rocha, Louise Kennedy and Maraid Whisker and an entertainment special including musical performances by Anuna, Soprano Mirriam Blennerhasset and a performance by The Basados Ballet Company. Collins also confirmed that leading supermodels Tyra Banks, Sophie Dahl, Aimee Mullins and Jodie Kidd will be joined on the catwalk by Irish models including Natasha Byram, Vivienne Connolly and Lizanna Kirwan and tennis stars Kournikova, Schett, Dokic, Daniella Hantuchova, Iva Majoli, and Lindsay Davenport.

This will be the first time all six ladies have been on a catwalk with supermodels of this calibre, and the tennis players are very excited about their catwalk appearance. Barbara Schett admitted: "It's my first time to be on the catwalk and I'm very excited. We would probably feel more comfortable if they were on the court with us! It's going to be fun!" Venus Willimas revealed: "I've never been to Ireland before and I've never been involved with an event like this before incorporating fashion, music and tennis. It's gonna be very different and I'm really looking forward to it!"

The Chernobyl Children's Project will benefit from The Trilogy events. The International Fashion Show Extravaganza launches The Trilogy at the RDS on Wednesday December 4 - Doors open at 7pm and the Fashion Show starts at 8.30pm. This will be followed by the Europe v USA tennis event on December 5, 6 and 7. Zina Garrison (USA) and Annabel Croft (Europe) will captain the sides.

Tickets are available from Ticketmaster on www.ticketmaster.ie and on 1890 925 100, and range from €50 to €100. Corporate boxes are available for all three events. Official corporate hospitality is available from CSL Associates. Tel: (01) 6766650 or on www.cslassociates.ie


11/22/02 Evert event draws sports and entertainment stars
Chevy Chase was a last-minute scratch, and former President George H.W. Bush was unable to attend due to a meeting with the president of Mexico.
But former professional tennis superstar and Boca Raton resident Chris Evert was still all smiles Thursday afternoon at a press conference at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Town Center at Boca Raton mall, where she unveiled the star-studded matches for her 13th Annual Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic this weekend.
Among the notable matches on Saturday are professional tennis star Monica Seles and Alan Thicke, former star of the sitcom "Growing Pains," who will face Evert and Fran Drescher, star of the sitcom "The Nanny."
Former tennis great Gabriela Sabitini will team with Oprah Winfrey crony Dr. Phil McGraw, who also now hosts his own talk show, in a match against Seles and Winfrey's boyfriend, author Stedman Graham.
On Sunday, "Dr. Phil" will team with Boca Raton resident and up-and-coming tennis star Andy Roddick to face former New York Yankee Paul O' Neill and Tommy Haas, currently the eighth-ranked tennis player in the world.
Others participating in the charity tennis event at the Delray Beach Tennis Center on West Atlantic Avenue include actor Jon Lovitz of "Saturday Night Live" fame, Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris and actress Maeve Quinlan of the daytime drama "The Bold and the Beautiful."
The eight matches will begin at 11 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
Evert said that although many can become star-struck by the event – which also includes a black-tie gala, live auction and performance by Rock n' Roll legends The Four Tops Saturday night at the Boca Raton Resort & Club – it is important to stay focused on why the annual event is held.
"It has become an [elaborate] event and it now has an image, but we never want to lose site of what we are doing," said Evert, pointing out that the event's first year featured entertainment by Whitney Houston. "This is about having fun but at the same time raising money for a good cause."
Teamed with the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida – a nonprofit organization that focuses on family support programs and matches funds raised from the Evert event – the Chris Evert/Raymond James Tennis Classic raised $900,000 last year and more than $10.2 million over the past decade to fight drug abuse and assist neglected and abused children in South Florida.
"The money that we raise does make a difference," said Evert, who earned $8 million in prize money during her years on the professional tennis tour. "We've seen women and children start to believe the world hasn't given up on them. Everyone deserves a second chance."
During her 20-year career, Evert won 157 tennis titles.

If you go

Tickets are still available for this weekend's 13th Annual Chris Evert/ Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic at the Delray Beach Tennis Center's box office, 201 W. Atlantic Ave. Prices are $30 for bleacher seats, $40 club seats and $80 single box seats. A Family Pak includes two adult tickets and two children under 12. Children will also get a giant tennis ball ideal for celebrity autographs and two McDonald's Happy Meal coupons. Box seat packages range from $650 to $950.
The matches will take place Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Health Foundation of South Florida Gala Black Tie Gala featuring entertainment by The Four Tops begins with a cocktail reception and silent auction at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Tickets are $750 each or $7,500 for a table of 10. Call (866) 836-6475 for that event.

11/15/02 Monica, Martina make most of moment
The Rebif MS Tennis Classic has brought top-level women's professional tennis to Denver for three years, and Monica Seles has been the one constant.

Winning the singles exhibition event has been a constant for Seles, too. Thursday night at the University of Denver's Magness Arena, Seles once again didn't disappoint.

Facing the venerable Martina Navratilova before an appreciative crowd of about 4,000, Seles won the singles event for the third year in a row, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

But it wasn't nearly as easy as it was last year for Seles, who disposed of Anna Kournikova in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.

Navratilova, whose 167 singles titles are more than anyone in the world, gave the crowd a show. She mockingly dropped her racket in disgust on a close call by the linesman that didn't go her way, and she laughed and danced along the baseline after a few serves.

Seles also appeared to enjoy herself, laughing and smiling at Navratilova's antics.

But if the mood was light, the tennis was serious, as Seles' trademark grunts could attest. The first set went to a tiebreaker after serve was held throughout by each player, with Seles winning the tiebreaker and match 7-6 (7-4) by tapping Navratilova's final serve just over the net, where it couldn't be returned.

"I think my serve helped me a lot," Seles said. "That I could hold my serve through the game, and through the tiebreaker, I was a little bit lucky for a while. But it made a big difference and put a little less pressure on me."

Seles, ranked No. 4 in the world, mentioned during a news conference Wednesday that Navratilova, who at age 45 is ranked 72nd in the world, would have an advantage because she lived in Aspen and was more acclimated to the altitude. But Seles broke Navratilova's serve in the first game of the second set and went on to win 6-2 to close out the match.

"It's like any time you play your friends on the tour," Seles said. "Once you step on the court, it's business. Once we step off, we're totally friends. I just try to be aggressive. In these conditions, you hit or miss. When I saw that Martina was going to keep the ball low, I just had to bend my knees and just accelerate and go for it."

The mood of the evening turned even lighter in the doubles event, with comedian Jon Lovitz umpiring. Retired tennis player Mary Joe Fernandez, who gave birth to a daughter 11 months ago, teamed with Seles to beat Navratilova and rising tennis star Corina Morariu 9-7 in a one-set match.

In the first singles event of the night, Sara Anundsen of Columbine High School beat Nicole Leimbach of Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs 6-2 in a one-match exhibition. Anundsen is a two-time state champion who has committed to the University of North Carolina.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Rocky Mountain MS Center.


11/14/02 Seles, Navratilova team up to fight MS
Monica Seles and Martina Navratilova have played tennis against each other on the world's biggest stages.

Tonight they face each other at Denver University's Magness Arena to raise money and draw attention to the fight against multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects one in every 800 Coloradans.

The Rebif MS Tennis Classic will bring the two champions together for a singles match at 7 p.m.. After that, comedian Jon Lovitz will umpire a doubles match featuring Navratilova, Seles, retired tennis player Mary Joe Fernandez and rising star Corina Morariu, with all proceeds benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Rocky Mountain MS Center.

In the past, the event has paired Seles and Lindsey Davenport (2000) and Seles and Anna Kournikova (2001), but for history and championships, neither compare to the pairing of Seles and Navratilova. The two have battled for the highest stakes in several Grand Slam events.

"We've had a few," Seles said when asked which match against Navratilova she remembered most. "But it had to be the (U.S. Open) Championship, in 1991, when we played in the finals there. That was great tennis. Then we played in Paris in 1992 in a three-set match.

"We've just had some classic matches, and to this day, when I watch those matches at home, on videotape, the games are just great.

"The games, but not the hairstyles."

They could afford to share a few laughs at the news conference Wednesday, but when Seles first turned pro and Navratilova was at the height of her domination of women's tennis, their matches were no joking matter. After losing in her first three matches against Navratilova after she turned pro in 1989, it meant the world to Seles to finally beat her in the finals of the 1990 Italian Open.

"I think when I first beat her, I thought I had played the best match of my life," said Seles, who has nine Grand Slam titles on her resume. "It was one of those days that I couldn't miss a ball, one of those matches that you never forget. It was always very special because when I was growing up, I always had a poster of Martina in my room and she was the one I looked up to."

Navratilova, who lives in Aspen, retired in 1994 after winning 166 doubles and 166 singles titles, more than any man or woman. She came out of retirement recently to play tennis semiregularly, and earlier this year she became the oldest woman, at age 45, to win a singles match on tour.

"Martina is in amazing shape," Seles said. "She is used to the altitude, so she'll have an advantage."

The biggest change in the game since making her return, Navratilova said, is the staggering power of the women's game.

"Everybody hits the ball hard," she said. "Not just the top players like Monica and Steffi (Graf). Everybody is hitting the cover off the ball. And players are more aggressive from the baseline. That's taken away a little bit of the variety, but the power that is out there from the baseline is the big difference."

Local junior players Sara Anundsen, a two-time Class 5A state champion from Columbine High School, and Nicole Leimbach, a two-time Class 4A champion from Pine Creek in Colorado Springs, will play a singles match at 5:45 p.m. before Seles and Navratilova square off.


11/08/02 Venus Williams defeats Seles in WTA Championships
LOS ANGELES -- Second-seeded Venus Williams saved 10 of 13 break points and beat No. 6 Monica Seles 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the WTA Championships on Friday night.

Williams will play No. 5 Kim Clijsters on Sunday in the semifinals of the season-ending tournament that determines the WTA Tour's final rankings.

Clijsters beat No. 4 Justine Henin 6-2, 6-1 in an all-Belgian quarterfinal.

Seles was clearly the favorite of the crowd at Staples Center, where she saved seven match points in beating Lindsay Davenport in the first round.

"I was very happy to be able to stay with her," Williams said. "I have a lot of respect for her. She was my favorite player growing up. That's why I started grunting; I wanted to be like Monica."

Seles successfully neutralized Williams' firepower, cracking winners off serves that reached 113 mph. Even when she didn't hit outright winners, Seles got the ball in play and Williams helped by making 38 unforced errors.

Williams had 11 aces and hit 44 winners to Seles' 21.

Seles blew a 4-1 lead in the first set, then had four break points to go up 5-3, but Williams hit a forehand winner and a 114-mph serve to hold at 4-4. Williams later broke Seles at love for a 6-5 lead before hitting a backhand winner off her 115-mph serve to win the set.

They traded service breaks early in the second set before Seles led 3-2. Williams survived nine deuces on her serve and tied the set 3-3 when Seles netted a backhand.

Williams broke Seles in two of the next three games for a 5-4 lead. Williams fired a 116-mph ace to set up her first match point. She won it on her second when Seles netted a forehand.

Williams extended her dominance of Seles, having won nine of their 10 career meetings, including the last three.


11/07/02 Seles Saves Seven Match Points to Beat Davenport
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Monica Seles saved seven match points before claiming a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 comeback win over fellow American Lindsay Davenport on Wednesday and a place in the quarter-finals of the $3 million WTA Championships.

Seles's victory was her first over Davenport for five years, ending a string of nine consecutive defeats.

The entertaining first-round clash between two of the tour's best known and most popular players attracted more spectators than the few hundred sprinkled through the cavernous Staples Center for the first afternoon session earlier in the day.

But the match still unfolded in front of more empty seats than occupied ones as the WTA's season-ending extravaganza got off to a muted start.

Davenport, who did not begin her season until July after recovering from knee surgery, looked the fresher of the two veterans.

She grabbed control by breaking Seles to go in front 4-3, winning seven games in a row to take the opening set and a 3-0 lead in the second.

But Seles, who has played in only one event since the U.S. Open, refused to fold.

Playing with an aggression absent in the opening set, Seles began to go for her shots, hitting back to level the second set and take it to a tie-break.

Her comeback appeared to be fizzling out as she trailed 4-0 but, despite holding numerous match points, Davenport could not finish off her feisty opponent, Seles taking the tie-break 8-6 to force a third set.

In the deciding set the momentum clearly swung in favor of Seles, who broke at 5-3 and then held serve to close out the match.


11/06/02 Seles comes back to beat Davenport
LOS ANGELES – Monica Seles fought back from seven match points in the second set, then took control in the third Wednesday night to beat Lindsay Davenport in their WTA Championships match.

Seles, faced her first match point in the 10th game of the second set and then was down double-match point in the 12th game. She trailed the second-set tiebreaker 6-2.

The sixth-seeded Seles, however, simply refused to lose. She rallied to win the final six points of the tiebreak and took the match 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 over Davenport.

Both Seles, who's been coming back from a foot injury, and Davenport, in her ninth tournament since having knee surgery in January, played well in their first-round match, with a string of long rallies and sizzling winners down the lines.

Davenport, who finished last year as No. 1 in the world, had reached the finals in four of the events she played since returning to the tour in July. She has not, though, won a title this year.

In afternoon matches, No. 4 Justine Henin defeated Elena Dementieva, and No. 5 Kim Clijsters breezed past Chanda Rubin.

No. 2 Venus Williams was to play Patty Schnyder of Switzerland in Wednesday night's final match. Top seed Serena Williams begins play Thursday night against Anna Smashnova.

After the afternoon matches drew fewer than 200 spectators, there was a crowd of some 5,000 at the evening session at Staples Center, which seats around 20,000.

Seles wrapped up the match by winning the last three games of the third set.

Henin, a 20-year-old player from Belgium who has been steadily improving, kept Dementieva off-balance and beat her 6-3, 6-3 with a blend of well-placed ground strokes and successful forays to the net.

Henin, who has reached six finals this year and won twice, won 11 points in 13 chances at the net, and her accuracy down the lines kept Dementieva scurrying side to side.

The 21-year-old Russian made 40 unforced errors, 13 more than Henin.

Henin broke Dementieva's service in the sixth game of the opening set to go up 4-2, then held on her next two service games to take the set.

Henin took control in the second by breaking Dementieva's serve in the seventh game.

Dementieva lost the final point of each of the last two games of the match on a pair of poorly executed drop shots. The first went into the net in the eighth game, and the next was a high bouncer in midcourt that Henin easily reached and slashed a crosscourt forehand to end the match.

Clijsters, her groundstrokes crisp and on target, needed only 57 minutes to beat Rubin 6-1, 6-2.

Rubin's second serve was particularly shaky – she double-faulted nine times – and she managed to hit just five groundstroke winners, while her 19-year-old foe from Belgium hit seven backhands and six forehands for winners.

The single-elimination tournament pits the top 16 singles players and top eight doubles teams based on points accumulated during the year. The results will determine the final WTA Tour rankings for the year.

The winner of the Monday night's singles final will collect $765,000 of $3 million in prize money.


11/05/02 Former No. 1 player not ready to retire
LOS ANGELES -- The armor, which once had shone so brightly, often has dulled by the time an athlete is first asked how much longer they plan to play. A step is gone, wisdom has begun to substitute for once-astounding power and athleticism, and the infallible gait of a champion begins to show the first signs of a limp.

At 28, Monica Seles crossed the imaginary age barrier that tends to precipitate questions of retirement a few years ago, but has no plans of retiring in the immediate future. She still has designs on at least one more Grand Slam title.

Although Seles hasn't dominated women's tennis as she did before being stabbed at a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, in 1993, she has consistently been ranked in the top 10 since 1995, when she returned from 27 months of inactivity after the attack.

``You look at what the press says that you're old and washed up when you're 25 or 26. It's not as bad as gymnastics, but it's almost getting to be like that,'' Seles said. ``But I think I'll play max, another two years, like at 30 I'm going to stop.

``But who knows? If I go Australia in January and I'm just like, `Gosh, this is not what I want to be doing,' then I'm going to stop. There's no pressure there.

``I'd love to win a Grand Slam before my career is over. But it's not the only thing. If I don't win another one, it's not like I won't be happy with my career.''

Seles is ranked No. 7 and is seeded sixth in the Women's Tennis Championships that begin tomorrow at Staples Center. It will be her first tournament since September as she has been rehabilitating a stress reaction in her right foot that has hampered her play since April.

Seles previously was having one of her best seasons since she became the youngest No. 1 player at age 17 in March, 1991. After ending Venus Williams 24-match winning streak in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in February, Seles reached the semifinals or better in the first five events of 2002.

``For Monica, I think it would be hard to stop because she's always finished so high, she always has these great years, she wins titles and she's always kind of giving herself a chance at the Slams,'' said close friend Lindsay Davenport, who will be Seles' first-round opponent Wednesday night.

``You should keep playing if you're able to stay up there. I think it's tougher if you're up there and then you fall, and then you're barely ranked 50th. But (Monica) still hits the ball better than anybody, she hits amazing shots and she returns so well. Her game is a great game.

``I haven't played her this year, but it seems like she always beats the players she's supposed to beat, and is always in the quarters and the semis and the finals of all the tournaments.''

But when Seles talks of playing until 30, you have to remember that for two years and three months, at the peak of her career, she did not even pick up a tennis racket. Seles was only 19 when 38-year-old Gunther Parche jumped on to the court and plunged a 9-inch boning knife between her shoulder blades during a change-over in her quarterfinal match against Magdalena Maleeva at the Citizen Cup Tournament in Hamburg, Germany, on April 30, 1993.

At the time of the attack, Seles had been the most dominant player in women's tennis for two years. At 19, she already had won eight of the 14 Grand Slam tournaments in which she had played … second fastest in the Open Era behind Margaret Court (who won seven titles in 10 attempts).

In 1991, on her way to the No. 1 ranking, Seles reached the final of every event she entered and won all three Grand Slams she entered. In 1992, she repeated as champion of the Australian, French and U.S. Opens and compiled a 70-5 match record.

Parche said later that he had not wanted to kill Seles, merely to injure her so Steffi Graf could regain the No. 1 ranking. But had Seles not been bending down when Parche stabbed her, doctors said he could have killed her as the knife narrowly missed the spinal area.

Parche never has been punished or spent a day in prison for the attack and Seles remains deeply hurt by that. The judge in the case, Elke Bosse, gave Parche a suspended two-year sentence, based partly on the testimony of a psychiatrist who said Parche had a highly abnormal personality. Since the ruling, Seles has decided not to play in Germany again.

``I just never wanted to come back when they never punished the guy, he never spent a day in jail,'' she said. ``I was really hurt about that. But then I realized I loved the game way too much. I really think my dad (Karolj) helped me to see that you gotta do what you love.''

In her first event back on August 15, 1995, Seles won the 1995 Canadian Open as a wild card. Next, she reached the final of the U.S. Open as a No. 2 seed before losing to Graf 7-6, 0-6, 6-3.

Seles maintained her No. 1 ranking through Nov. 3, 1996. Her best finish since in a Grand Slam was reaching the finals of the French Open in 1998.

The two years she sat out are forever gone and Seles is left to wonder how many Grand Slams she could have won during that time. But horrible as the incident was, Seles has taken something positive from it.

``It's a Catch-22, but in long run, it definitely helped me to see that there is life outside of tennis,'' Seles said. ``In those two years, I could finally spend time with kids my own age and do stuff. If I wanted to go skiing, I didn't have to worry about breaking a finger or breaking my leg. I stayed out in Vail and Lake Tahoe and, really, I just lived like a normal life. It was so good.

``Since I was probably 8 years old, I'd never spent more than two months at my house, so it was nice.''

Although she has no immediate plans of retirement, Seles allows herself to think what life will be like without the game she has loved since she began playing tennis with her father on a parking lot in Novi Sad, the capital of Vojvodina, an autonomous province in the former Yugoslavia claimed by Serbia.

``Oh yeah, I let myself think about it,'' Seles said with a laugh. ``I'm kind of looking forward to it because it will really be the first time I'll have a normal life.

``Another part of me is definitely like, `What am I going to do?' because I've played tennis for so long and I've always been so focused on it.

``I'm just trying to explore a few other things. I feel like a lot of my friends went through this, not at 28, but when they were like 22. I don't know what I want to do but I think I have a lot of time to figure that out.

``But I don't think my transition will be too difficult. I just think it will be difficult to find something that I love as much as I love tennis.''


11/02/02 Monica Seles: Welcome back
Former world No.1 Monica Seles makes her first appearance at the Championships since 2000, aiming to win a fourth season-ending title.

The 28-year-old American has now qualified for the Championships an amazing 12 times, more than any other player in the 2002 event. A three-time champion from 1990 to 1992, Seles has reached final only once since then, in her most recent appearance two years ago.

In the final Championships at New York's Madison Square Garden, Seles led Martina Hingis a set and 4-2 before falling. After missing last year's event in Munich, Monica will be warmly welcomed at STAPLES Center.

Monica enjoyed a brilliant start to 2002, reaching the semifinals or better of her first seven events, beating Venus Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals and winning her 52nd career title at Doha.

Despite reaching the quarterfinals of Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, and returning to No.4 in the world, Seles has been troubled a right foot injury for much of the second half of the year. It shortened her US Open preparations and has forced her to miss the entire indoor season, having not played since Bahia, the week after the US Open.

She may be lacking match practice, but Seles has proven in the past she can hit the ground running when returning from injury. One of the greatest players of all time, Seles has been a major figure in women's tennis for much of the past dozen years. Another Championships title is certainly not out of the question.


11/02/02 Home Depot Championships Expected First Round Matches
The Home Depot Championships Presented by Porsche announced its expected first round matches today in Los Angeles, after the conclusion of the Draw this afternoon. The season-ending finale at STAPLES Center on November 6-11 will determine the 2002 Sanex WTA Tour's final rankings.

Expected matches for Wednesday and Thursday are as follows:

Wednesday's Sessions will start at 12:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.
(two matches per session)


Kim Clijsters (BEL) vs. Chanda Rubin (USA)
Elena Dementieva (RUS) vs. Justine Henin (BEL)
Monica Seles (USA) vs. Lindsay Davenport (USA)
Patty Schnyder (SUI) vs. Venus Williams (USA)

Thursday's Sessions will start at 12:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.
(two matches per session)

Anastasia Myskina (RUS) vs. Jelena Dokic (YUG)
Magdalena Maleeva (BUL) vs. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Anna Smashnova (ISR)
Jennifer Capriati (USA) vs. Silvia Farina Elia (ITA)

The Home Depot Championships Presented by Porsche will host a media day at STAPLES Center on Tuesday, November 5 at 10:00 a.m. Players will be available to credentialed media in two one-hour sessions.

Individual tickets for all ten tournament sessions are now available via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone network (213-480-3232), all Ticketmaster outlets and on-line at www.ticketmaster.com. Group discounts as well as special five, seven and ten session "season" passes are available by calling 1-866-524-7687.

For more information about the Home Depot Championships Presented by Porsche and for media credentials please call Jeremy Riffle at 310-210-1336 and to learn more about the Sanex WTA Tour visit www.sanexwta.com.


10/18/02 Shriver serves up Seles, Davenport
The format of the 17th Chevy Chase Bank Tennis Challenge on Dec. 10 at Baltimore Arena will remain unchanged. That means the evening's program will begin with a legends match, be followed by the main singles event and conclude with the Orioles Challenge.

It is the Orioles Challenge that may require fans to suspend their take on reality for a little while.

Yesterday, tournament personnel presided over the official announcement that Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles, two former World No. 1s and current Top 10 players, will compose the feature match of the evening.

Patrick McEnroe, the U.S. Davis Cup team coach, former ATP Tour player and current television analyst, also has agreed to anchor the Legends of Tennis segment. His fellow competitors will be named soon.

But it was the Orioles Challenge, which is designed to team Orioles players with Davenport and Seles, that will be a little different this year, while staying very much the same.

Brady Anderson, who has been a mainstay in the event for the past seven years, will return for an eighth time, despite no longer being an Oriole. Anderson, who was with the Orioles from 1988 through 2001, is out of baseball after being released by the Cleveland Indians earlier this year.

"But he promised not to wear an Indians uniform," said retired women's pro Elise Burgin, who emceed yesterday's news conference in the absence of the tournament's creator, Hall of Fame player Pam Shriver.

Shriver was home in California, where she is under doctor's orders not to travel for several weeks after a minor medical procedure. She did take part, however, via phone.

A year ago, Anderson had finished his last season with the Orioles when he teamed with Andre Agassi to keep his winning record in the event perfect. At the time, Shriver said: "There will always be a place for Brady in this tournament."

Still, Shriver said she was a little surprised he wanted to do it this year.

"We thought he'd just say, 'Nah,' " she said. "But he's been around Baltimore a bit in the offseason and said he wanted to come back to defend his title."

Shriver acknowledged something of an ulterior motive in getting McEnroe to come to the Arena. She noted his Davis Cup connection and that he has a lot of input as to where the U.S. matches are scheduled.

"We feel the Arena is a good place for tennis," Shriver said. "It's a chance for him to look at the Arena, when it's full of people, as an indoor site. You never know what may come of that."

The appearance here of Davenport, Seles and McEnroe continues the trend of stars Shriver has paraded through Baltimore, as she has dedicated her time and this tournament to raising more than $3 million for children's charities.

"Isn't it amazing?" Burgin said. "The first year of Pam's charity event was 1986. She was 24 years old, and even then she had the clout and foresight to put it together, bring the best players in the world to Baltimore and make it a success."


10/17/02 Davenport, Seles commit to Shriver event
Over the years, Pam Shriver, Baltimore's Hall of Fame tennis player, has brought the best players in the world to her hometown to play in her annual charity event at the Baltimore Arena.

This year, because of schedules that have committed many players to tournaments overseas, putting the 17th Chevy Chase Bank Tennis Challenge together really has been a challenge for Shriver. She received the final commitments in just the past few days.

But among players she will announce at a news conference today for the Dec. 10 event are two of the most admired women in the game - Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles, both former No. 1 players in the world.

Seles is currently ranked No. 7, and Davenport, who returned to the game in August after missing most of the year after knee surgery, is No. 10.

"We are excited about the match we've put together," Shriver said from her California home. "We were struggling for a long time. We pursued both men and women players. On the women's side, we tried for the Williams sisters, Venus, Serena or both, and Jennifer Capriati, and on the men's side we tried for [Andre] Agassi, [Andy] Roddick and [Pete] Sampras."

At the same time, Shriver said she kept her eyes on Davenport and Seles, and when it became apparent that those first six players could not fit the Baltimore tournament into their schedules, she went hard after the two women who have bailed her out in the past.

Seles appeared here in 1990, 1996 and 1997. The last time, she was a late entry, stepping in for Steffi Graf, who backed out because of injury. It was a similar situation in 1998, when Davenport came to the rescue, when Graf was again hurt, this time the week before the event.

The arena crowd responded so warmly to Davenport, and she had such a good time, she came back again the next year.

Davenport finished last season at No. 1 before her surgery, and Seles continues to compete hard against those ranked above her.

"Both women are good citizens," Shriver said. "They are something of a throwback. ... They're involved with the sport off the tennis court, and they care. Even though they are not linked to the Billie Jean King era, they certainly understand the role of tennis player beyond a tennis match, and I think Baltimore appreciates and responds to the kind of effort they give."

Shriver will not be at today's news conference. She has recently undergone a minor medical procedure that precludes travel for a few weeks. Shriver said she plans to be here for the tournament in December.

Over the past 16 years, the event has raised more than $3 million for children's charities, through the Baltimore Community Foundation.


10/02/02 There's Still No Quit in Seles
Contrary to popular perception, the WTA's season-ending championships at Staples Center next month won't be the finish line for Monica Seles, a three-time winner of the event in the early '90s. That's the thing about perceptions. They might seem grounded in reality, but on closer examination, the base isn't always as secure as it appears.

Seles, in Los Angeles on Thursday to promote the tournament, is not making plans far into the future. But an upbeat Seles said she will play the Australian Open in Melbourne in January, and possibly a tuneup tournament in Sydney or Hobart, but not the Hopman Cup in Perth. While Pete Sampras had been besieged by retirement questions the last two years (before he won the U.S. Open in September), Seles, who will turn 29 in December, has been facing those issues for about twice as long.

"That question has not happened at 28; that question, literally, started at 25," Seles said. "That's what has been really hard. People forget the last 10-12 years, I've finished in the top five every year. I see that with someone like Arantxa [Sanchez-Vicario]. We talk a little.... It's very hard on her. I think everybody should be done when they want to be done. I really believe it."

There is an underlying double standard, she said, from some reporters, as though they've decided it is time for her to get married and have children. Seles said the shove toward the finish line seems to happen more on the women's side.

"It's almost like they want you to retire.... Like just say it and you're done and we scratch you off the list," she said. "The only time I've ever seen that happen was with Pete. With Andre [Agassi], they never did it. He [Sampras] was getting this question all the time."

Now, in a twist, Sampras is asking himself the same thing. In the first few days after his 14th Grand Slam singles title, the memorable U.S. Open final against Agassi, Sampras thought he would continue. He especially wanted to erase the bitter memory of his second-round loss to lucky loser George Bastl on Court 2 at Wimbledon this year.

More recently, he has wavered. Last week, at a charity match against Agassi in Philadelphia, he told reporters he would make a decision about retirement in about a month, saying, "Right now, I'm going back and forth whether to stop." Seles was surprised that some of the people who wrote Sampras off were his peers.

"It took almost this one for people to appreciate what he's done," she said. "What a way to finish your career. At the same time, I really think he has a few more grand slams in him. How cool would that be? Everybody is different. Never say never."

Which is why she is not putting a strict timetable on her own professional shelf life. In 2002, Seles won two tournaments and defeated Venus Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

For Seles, the WTA championships will be her final event with her coach, Mike Sell. Sell has moved to Los Angeles, and Seles intends to keep her home base in Florida.

Name Game

The Nov. 6-11 tournament at Staples has received a title sponsor, officials said Thursday. It will be called the Home Depot WTA Tour Championships. The company signed a one-year deal with an option for two more.

Teenagers Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Kim Clijsters of Belgium have qualified for the tournament, leaving six singles spots remaining. Lindsay Davenport of Laguna Beach improved her chances of qualifying, moving into the 16th spot by reaching the final at Moscow on Sunday. Davenport recently was engaged to Jon Leach, the younger brother of tour doubles specialist Rick Leach.

10/09/02 Seles hoping to inspire kids: True tennis talent remembers her roots
She's one of the top women's tennis players of all time, with nine Grand Slam titles and more than $13 million in career earnings to her credit. And she's not done yet.

Currently ranked sixth on the pro tour, her tournament victory total sits at 53, and counting -- 53 more wins than Anna Kournikova has managed in her career.

Yet, Monica Seles likely won't be the star of the show when she and Kournikova hook up for an exhibition match at the Arena in December. All because she's considered a runner-up in the all-important "good looks" category.

A joke? Of course. Reality? Definitely.

Phenomenon

But Seles isn't losing any sleep over the Anna phenomenon.

"If that's the way it is, then that's it," Seles said from Florida during a conference call with local reporters yesterday. "She's obviously a huge personality. Everybody's very excited to see her. I think young guys love to watch her and stuff like that."

Those same guys probably wouldn't describe Kournikova using words like "hard-working" and "top player."

But that's exactly what Seles proceeded to do.

"I'm good friends with Anna, and I really have a lot of respect for how hard she's working," she said. "Different people say different things on it. She wants to become the best player that she can be.

"I think this past year has been difficult for her. She's coming off a long injury... before that, she was No. 8 in the world. You don't get to do that just by being pretty. I mean, she's a top player."

She couldn't carry Seles's ball bag, though.

Ranked 33rd, Kournikova's best showing at a Grand Slam event was a surprise trip to the Wimbledon semifinal five years ago.

Wimbledon is the only thing missing from Seles's resume, which includes four Australian Open titles, three French Opens and a pair of U.S. Opens.

At one point, she won seven of eight Slams that she'd entered. But that was back in '93, the year Seles's life changed forever.

That April, during a match in Hamburg, Seles was stabbed in the back by a fan who wanted German Steffi Graf to be the top-ranked player in the world.

The physical wounds healed relatively quickly, but Seles was so scarred mentally she was off the Tour for more than two years.

Yesterday, she said she doesn't think about the attack very often. It was clear she didn't want to talk about it.

In '95, Seles made a triumphant return to the court, winning the Canadian Open.

Canada has actually been very good to Seles -- she would go on to win four straight Open titles. And she's looking forward to seeing a part of the country she's never seen before.

"I always love to come to places that are new," Seles said. "It's just going to be great to bring tennis to that area."

Seles sounds like someone who hasn't forgotten her roots.

Her childhood home, the former Yugoslavia, wasn't exactly a tennis hotbed, either. But she became hooked when Bjorn Bjorg and John McEnroe showed up for an exhibition match.

She's hoping to have a similar effect on kids here.

"I drove with my parents 2 1/2 hours to watch it," Seles recalled. "And that really inspired me. I got a racket signed by Bjorg and I said, 'Wow -- maybe one day I can be there.' Hopefully, there's a little girl or boy that can have that opportunity."

Seles doesn't take part in many exhibition matches. She agreed to this one because it takes place just before she leaves for the first Grand Slam event of the season, the Australian Open. All the practice in the world can't replace playing a match, she says.

And make no mistake -- her goal is to steal another Slam from the likes of the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, who are dominating the game these days.

"Everyone will have to work very hard if we want to win a Grand Slam right now," she said.

Come Dec. 15, there will only be one person inside the Arena with a realistic shot.

And her name's not Anna.

10/08/02 Seles Joins Williamses, Kournikova on Sidelines
ZURICH (Reuters) - Monica Seles has withdrawn from next week's Swisscom Challenge in Zurich due to a right foot injury, the WTA said on Tuesday.

Sixth-ranked Seles, winner of nine grand slam tournaments, joins world Nos. 1 and 2 Serena and Venus Williams in missing the $1.2 million tournament.

Anna Kournikova also will have to sit out of this year's tournament. Additional tests have confirmed the diagnosis that she sprained her left ankle and tore a ligament in Moscow last week.

The Schluefweg Arena event still boasts a powerful field, however, with Jennifer Capriati, Amelie Mauresmo, Justine Henin, Lindsay Davenport, Jelena Dokic, Kim Clijsters and Martina Hingis all signed up to play.

Former world No. 1 Hingis is one of a record four Swiss women in the main draw.

Tenth-ranked Hingis is joined by world No. 17 Patty Schnyder as an automatic qualifier while Marie-Gaiane Mikaelian and Myriam Casanova were handed wildcards.

"They are both young, they both play attractive, powerful tennis, and they both won their first WTA tournaments this year and have gained a lot of ground in the rankings -- that's why we gave them wildcards," tournament director Beat Ritschard said.

While 17-year-old Casanova is making her debut in the Schluefweg Stadium this year, Mikaelian, who is a year older, amazed everyone at the 2001 event when she stormed through qualification to reach the quarter-finals, where she lost to the then top-ranked Capriati.


09/27/02 MS Tennis Classic: Seles vs Navratilova Exhibition

Denver, September 24, 2002 - Tennis superstars Monica Seles and Martina Navratilova are set to play in an exhibition tennis match benefiting Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Colorado Chapter and the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center announced today.

The third annual Rebif MS Tennis Classic presented by The Denver Post, the only professional tennis match to visit the Rocky Mountain Region, returns Thursday November 14th at University of Denver's Magness Arena, to benefit The National Multiple Sclerosis Society Colorado Chapter and the Rocky Mountain MS Center. All proceeds from the event, as well as any ancillary events, will fund research and programs for both of the Denver-based MS organizations.

We are thrilled the Rebif MS Tennis Classic is returning to Denver for its third year. This event has been such a wonderful success for our organizations," said Dianne Williams, president of The National Multiple Sclerosis Society Colorado Chapter.Williams continued, "Considering that 73 percent of those affected by MS are women, bringing in a professional women's tennis event just makes sense for us."

One in 800 Coloradoans are affected by Multiple Sclerosis. It is a chronic, often disabling disease of the Central Nervous System. Symptoms range from numbness in the limbs to paralysis or loss of vision. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, but the unpredictable physical and emotional effects can be lifelong.

Seles, returning after beating Russian player Anna Kournikova in 2 straight sets at last years event, will find herself across the net from tour legend Navratilova, undoubtedly providing for a very exciting event for tennis fans of all ages. Yugoslavian born, Seles is currently ranked number four in the world and resides in Sarasota, Florida. Seles is one of the most revered players on the tour with an exceptional fan base in Colorado. She has come back from serious obstacles, and has captured three of the four Grand Slams with nine total Grand Slam Titles.

Preliminary events for this year will include a free kids's clinic hosted by Greenwood Athletic Club, featuring lessons from Denver's Top Tennis Pros as well as a special appearance from Sanex WTA Tour legend Mary Joe Fernandez or current Tour player Corina Marariu, the former #1 doubles player who recently returned to the Tour following a successful bout with Leukemia. In addition, a press conference and player/sponsor party will be held on November 13th. The festivities of the main event on the 14th will begin when doors open at Magness Arena at 5:30p.m. with pro-sets beginning at 6pm. The main singles match will begin at 7 p.m., and the evening will finish up with a doubles pro-set featuring Mary Joe Fernandez and Corina Morariu.


09/14/02 Seles and Dokic Shocked in Brazil
Top seeds Monica Seles and Jelena Dokic were both dumped out in the semi-finals of the Brazil Open in Bahia.

Eighth seed Eleni Daniilidou of Greece reached the final after fighting off apparent heat exhaustion to oust defending champion and second seed Seles 6-1 7-5.

Daniilidou will face third seed Anastasia Myskina on Saturday after the Russian put out top seed and last year's runner-up Dokic of Yugoslavia 6-2 6-4. 

Former Australian, U.S. and French Open champion Seles had not dropped a set before Friday but was crushed by her powerful and technically gifted opponent in the opening set. 

The real drama came after Daniilidou, who won her first WTA title at s'Hertogenbosch this year, took a 5-4 lead in the second. 

Play was held up as the Greek, who seemed to have difficulty breathing, was given medical attention but the 19-year-old opted to carry on even though she appeared to be on her last legs. 

But despite looking completely exhausted she eventually came through.

09/12/02 Seles Stomps Nagyova In Straight Sets To Reach Semis of Brasil Open
The defending Brasil Open champion went on the offensive tonight. Monica Seles overcame a sporadic serve with strong strokes to stomp Henrieta Nagyova, 6-0, 6-4, and secure a spot in the tournament semifinals.

The second-seeded Seles stormed through the first set in less than a half an hour, ripping deep returns to repeatedly break Nagyova's serve.

Betrayed by an errant service toss and a slew of double faults, Seles' surrended serve twice in the second set, but compensated with crisp groundstrokes to easily advance.

"I have been struggling with my serve since the U.S. Open," Seles said. "I was having great difficulty with my toss tonight."

Coach Mike Sell did not make the trip to Bahia, Brasil, so Seles said she'll have to wait until she returns to the States to work on her serve.

"Since I am here without my coach I will not work on it," Seles said. "I plan to just stick to my normal practice routine."

In the final four, Seles takes on talented Greek teenager Eleni Daniilidou tomorrow afternoon. It will be their second career meeting. The first came at the 2001 U.S. Open where Seles came prevailed 6-2, 6-3 in the third round.


09/12/02 Seles Tops Nagyova at Brazil Open
COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil (AP) - Defending champion Monica Seles advanced to the semifinals of the Brazil Open on Thursday, beating Slovakia's Henrieta Nagyova 6-0, 6-4.

Seles, seeded second in the hard-court event, will face eighth-seeded Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 winner over fourth-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.

In the other semifinal, top-seeded Jelena Dokic of Yugoslavia will play third-seeded Anastasia Myskina of Russia.

Dokic, the runner-up last year, beat South Africa's Amanda Coetzer 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, and Myskina defeated Slovenia's Maja Matevzic 7-5, 6-1.


09/11/02 Seles through in Brazil

Monica Seles overcame a slow start to kick off her Brazil Open defence with a 7-5 6-1 win against Slovenia's Tina Pisnik.

The former Australian, US and French Open champion fell 3-5 behind in the first set of the second-round match.

But she won seven straight games to clinch the set and raced to a 3-0 lead in the second before rain interrupted the match.

When play resumed she closed out the match comfortably.

"Pisnik was playing very well in the beginning of the match, and I was slow to find my rhythm, so I slowed my pace and tried to play longer balls. It worked", said the world number 5. "Then, in the second set, the rain delay was a little bit unsettling, and she didn't played so well. It was a good start", said Seles.

Seles, seeking her third title of the year after wins in Doha and Madrid, will meet Slovakia's Henrieta Nagyova in the last eight.

Nagyova shocked fifth-seed and former French Open champion Iva Majoli, of Croatia, 6-2 6-3.


09/05/02 Beaten Seles at a Crossroad
NEW YORK (Reuters) - She hates going out to battle, but loves hitting tennis balls. No longer able to keep up with the new kids on the block, she is still deeply in love with the sport.

Monica Seles has a lot of thinking to do.

A 6-2 6-3 defeat by Venus Williams in the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open Wednesday underlined yet again that the 28-year old is unlikely to ever challenge again for top honors.

A little slower than at her best and overtaken in the power stakes by a younger breed, the once irrepressible Seles now has her limitations.

No-one could ever call her a failure, however.

At the Australian Open this year she beat Williams to reach the semi-finals, and she was also a quarter-finalist at both the French Open and Wimbledon.

There were semi-finals at Indian Wells, Miami, the Paris indoor event and Dubai, a runner-up finish in Tokyo, and even two tournament victories, in Doha and Madrid.

But those titles came against comparatively weak opposition. When it comes to the grand slams or top level tournaments, the chance of her lifting the trophy is now remote.

STEP SLOWER

Despite a trophy cabinet that boasts nine grand slam titles, she's now a step slower than the new kids on the block, and it's harder to grind out match after match no matter how much she loves to hit tennis balls.

"Right now I'm really enjoying it, working hard. If my body allows it I'd like to keep playing," she said. "I'll keep playing tennis for ever, really.

"It would be impossible, I think, to do something you love since you were six or seven and then suddenly stop at 28 or 30 or 32. It's been too big a part of my life."

But although she loves the game, she doesn't like going out to battle. She never played with the goal of becoming world number one or winning grand slam titles.

They just followed.

"I never liked the competition part at all, because it's hard. I just love to play tennis," said Seles. "I wish we didn't have to go out there and win and lose, because that's very tough emotionally.

"Even if you win a tournament, the next week you have to play again and you never get time to enjoy it."

She admits there have been distractions recently.

"Any matches I've gone into the last few months, it's been a struggle for me mentally for different reasons. Nothing to do with tennis. I haven't made anything complicated. Unfortunately it's all been other people.

YOUNGER GENERATION

"It's just made me do what I have to do," she said, while refusing to explain what has disturbed her.

There can only be speculation that she might now be finding herself pushed aside by sponsors as the spotlight turns to the younger generation.

Maybe she just wants to lead a normal life after being a tennis gypsy since she was a kid.

"I do believe tennis is a young game," she said. "Definitely the younger, the better. They have more attention, more sponsors and all that stuff. You look at other sports, and you can peak later on in your life.

"But we start the game so long and you have to have a very focused life-style. You have no off-season. How long are you willing to sacrifice that stuff?

"It's easier for guys. They can have their wives and kids travel with them. For women it's a lot tougher for a lot of different reasons. In my case, I've always said I'm just going to play competitively for as long as I enjoy it, as long as my body lets me play.

"When the time will come for me to retire, I have no idea. It could come after this tournament, or two years after this tournament. I have no idea. But I do know one thing. I'll play tennis for ever because it's a sport that I love.

"I've been very lucky to actually make a living at it and not just have it as a hobby while I have another job," she said.


09/04/02 Venus Should Be Named Tonight's American Idol
Venus entered center court Wednesday night to prove once again, she is a force to be reckoned with. Playing in the quarterfinals against No. 6 seed Monica Seles, Williams wowed fans with her undeniable strength that has earned her the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Her sister Serena holds the seed above her.

From the get-go, Williams controlled the match, swiping her racket at everything Seles served her. Seles held on to two games, mostly off of baseline rally winners and Williams' errors. Venus, on the other hand, served up two aces and hit winners during 9 of her 10 net appearances. A commanding presence, along with plenty of crowd support, earned her the first set, 6-2.

Seles pulled herself together in the second set to prove there was still a glimmer of hope. Mixing up her shots, along with plenty of slice and topspin, Seles won three of the first six games. The two-time US Open champ would win on 64% of her first serves, and would commit significantly less unforced errors than in the first set.

However, Williams would break Seles to win the crucial seventh game, and a 120-mph service game would take her even farther.

Seles had a tough last game, serving at 3-5. Venus quickly won three consecutive points, and on match point, fired a fireball of a backhand that left Seles stunned. The new American idol took the match, 6-2, 6-3.

Williams goes on to the semi-finals where she meets France's Amelie Mauresmo, who defeated Jennifer Capriati today, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3.

09/04/02 Venus on Course for U.S. Open Hat-Trick
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Twice defending champion Venus Williams rebounded from a hesitant fourth round performance by scoring an emphatic 6-2 6-3 victory over Monica Seles on Wednesday to ease into the semi-finals of U.S. Open.

The win keeps Venus on course for a showdown with sister Serena, as the season's final last slam appears headed toward yet another all-Williams final.

"I feel it's best for me to meet Serena in the final," said Venus, who disposed of her sister in straight sets last year to retain her U.S. Open crown. "I want to see her do her best and I would like to see me do my best."

Since the 2001 U.S. Open final, it is Serena's best that has been better, defeating her older sister and both the French Open and Wimbledon finals this year.

Following a narrow three-set escape against Chanda Rubin a day earlier, a worried Williams immediately returned to the practice court with father and coach Richard.

The results were on full display for another large crowd at the Arthur Ashe stadium, including younger sister Serena, as a ruthless and relentless Williams broke Seles at the first opportunity and again to surge in front 4-1 to take control of the opening set.

In an awesome display of power, the statuesque Williams lost just one point on her serve, ripping through the first set in 25 minutes.

"I was able to get a lot of pace on first serve," offered a subdued Williams, whose assault included five aces. "It's really satisfying to know that I've been able to work hard to be able to get to this level where I can play this well against a player like Monica."

In eight career meetings Williams had walked away the winner seven times but Seles confidence would have been boosted by her quarter-final victory earlier this year at the Australian Open.

Some of that confidence final began to emerge in the second set as Seles steadied herself; her two-handed groundstrokes began to find their mark.

NO BREAKS

But Seles, U.S. Open champion in 1991 and 1991, could not find a way to break the second seed.

Following a brief lull and level at 3-3, Williams again turned up the pressure on Seles sweeping the final three games to wrap up the contest in 57 minutes.

"I think the match tells it all, I think I had one break point," said Seles. "She just served too well, I couldn't read it all. It was just too strong.

"She is one of the toughest players for me to play.

"Each time I go into a match I know it's tough because she has her weapons that make it difficult for me.

"You know, when someone is serving 115 mph, it's tough to return no matter how well you're playing."

Williams will next meet 10th seeded Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo, who prevented the semi-finals from being an all-American affair with her upset win over Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati.

The other semi-finals sees Wimbledon and French Open champion Serena Williams face Lindsay Davenport the last non-Williams to win at Flushing Meadows when she lifted the title in 1998.

"I'm ready already," said Williams, who is perfect 4-0 against the muscular Frenchwoman. "We've had some great matches.

"I've played her twice this year, I played her in Paris and it was real close and I played her in Antwerp, the first set was close.

"I just don't like to lose that often. I've been able to play just a little bit better. I guess that's it."


09/04/02 Monica Seles Still Loves The Game
While waiting out the monsoon over the Labor Day weekend, Monica Seles did what tennis fans everywhere were doing: she flicked on the television.

Seles was captivated by the two youngsters slugging it out somewhere in the ozone of rerun-land.

"One of the best matches, I think, in women's tennis," Seles decided.

She had never seen much of this match, although she had played in it. She was not quite 18, and Jennifer Capriati had just turned 15, and they both turned it on as if there were no tomorrow, which for both of them would almost be the case.

"Fun to see Jennifer and I hit the ball," Seles said yesterday. "One of the first matches that the ball was hit hard. Now you look, it's being hit harder."
• 

She and Capriati are both working on their reborn careers, but the ball goes faster now. Yesterday Seles outlasted a shaky Martina Hingis, 6-4, 6-2, to reach the quarterfinals of the United States Open, against Venus Williams, who hits harder than anybody, except, of course, her sister Serena.

Seles says she can live with the faster game as personified by the Williams sisters. But the tape from 1991 reminded her, most graphically, that she was once the best female player in the world.

On Sept. 6, 1991, in a semifinal at the Open, Seles held on in the third-set tie breaker, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (3). Writing in The New York Times, Robin Finn called the match "a slugfest conducted by a pair of teenagers whose strokes defied age, gender and the legal speed limit."

In the final, Seles beat Martina Navratilova for her fourth victory in a Grand Slam event. Seles would win four more before a man put a knife between her shoulder blades during a match in Germany in 1993.

"I was playing very well, those two, three years before my stabbing," Seles said. "You know, I guess, dominating the sport at that stage."

She said it with a mature smile, not looking for sympathy, just using that ghastly moment as a point of reference for when her world changed.

The fans know the story. They shout, "Come on, Monica!" remembering the goofy teenager with the Woody Woodpecker laugh and the killer backhand. Now she has become a gallant quarterfinalist.

"The game has changed," she said. "I mean, the game went for a very stagnant period from '93 to '96," when she was recuperating.

"In '97 the girls started to get bigger, stronger, faster," Seles added, referring to the year the Williams sisters arrived. "You see the girls now are 6 feet tall, everyone has a 100-mile-per-hour serve — that's the lowest. It's changing. It's so much more even now. Anybody on any given day can beat most of the top players. That's why it's so exciting."

Seles beat Venus Williams in Australia in January, but Hingis, who beat Seles in the semifinals in Australia, said yesterday: "But Venus has gotten better since then. Wasn't injured or anything. I don't know. I mean, you can't compare my game right now to Venus's."

Even if that is true, Seles can live with it. She has more trouble with people dropping the retirement question on her.

"Each time I say it, people just roll their eyes," she said, until the questioner promised he would not roll his eyes.

"O.K.," Seles said. "I really never played tennis for winning the Grand Slam or to be No. 1 and stuff like that. Maybe it was a very naïve thought to it. Maybe. I don't know. But truly, it's not the driving force in me today.

"I love to play tennis. I said it many times. I wish we didn't have to go out there and win and lose, because that is very tough emotionally. If you win a tournament, next week you have to kind of play again. You never get time to enjoy it."
• 

She finally got to enjoy that 1991 semifinal on rainy Labor Day 2002. She said, "It was fun to see that, just to see even my dad's reaction to certain points, which, you know, at that stage during a match you never realize it."

Her father, Karolj, who taught her to play in a parking lot back home in Yugoslavia, died four years ago, but there he was on Monday, rooting for his daughter.

How good were you on television? somebody asked. "I was very good," Seles said, almost giggling, eliciting warm laughter.

What about the outfits and the hairstyles of 1991? Seles grunted as loudly as she does on the court. The past is mostly for reruns during rain delays.


09/03/02 Seles Wins Battle of Former Champions
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sixth seed Monica Seles won the battle of former U.S. Open champions on Tuesday, easing past Martina Hingis 6-4 6-2 and into the quarter-finals of the season's final grand slam.

Advancing to final eight for the ninth time in 12 visits to the Open, Seles will next meet twice defending champion Venus Williams.

"You've got to just play your game against Venus," said Seles, looking forward to her match with the world number two.

"Venus has a fantastic serve and great movement, those are her strengths.

"But I've got to play her just the same as anyone else.

"The key is serves. Her serve is obviously powerful and she'll hold her games easier than I will."

For 1997 champion Hingis, it was her earliest exit since her first appearance at Flushing Meadow as a fresh-faced 14-year-old prodigy in 1995.

Having clashed 19 times, Hingis winning 15, the pair stepped on to a sun-kissed Arthur Ashe stadium court looking to turn around campaigns interrupted by injuries.

Winner at Flushing Meadows in 1991 and 1992, Seles got the match off to a bright start by breaking Hingis at the first opportunity.

Playing in just her third event since returning to the Tour following ankle surgery, Hingis would quickly get back on serve with a break to go 2-2 but the Swiss could not find any rhythm and her shots lacked confidence and conviction.

Seles, grunting and firing away from the baseline, stepped up the pressure in the second set as Hingis unraveled with back-to-back breaks to fall behind 5-2.

But ninth seed Hingis would not surrender quietly and Seles, who has played in just one Tour event since Wimbledon because of foot problems, needed five match points before finally finishing off the Swiss in exactly one hour.

At her post-match press conference, Seles once again spent much of her time denying reports that this was her final U.S. Open and would retire next season.

"It's been front page news that I'm retiring but I still enjoy playing tennis, I'm still playing at a very high level so I don't know where this is coming from," said the nine-times grand slams winner.

"Let us play as long as we want to play and when we're tired of the traveling, the competition we'll retire.

"The day I don't want to put in effort -- and it's very life and death right now -- I'll say this is it.


09/03/02 Solid Performance, Seles Takes Out Hingis
No. 6 seed Monica Seles delivered a solid performance on Tuesday, the first sunny day since Wednesday of last week. Seles administered lethal baseline winners that were simply too fast for Hingis to handle, taking the match, 6-4, 6-2.

This is the 20th time the two former world No. 1's have met, with 15 of the 20 going Hingis' way. However, an unflappable Seles took the stadium court by storm, taking advantage of Hingis in back and forth volleys with more precise shots.

Seles came out in the first set as if she had something to prove, triumphing in pursuit of Hingis' shots with a relentless determination. She started off the first set converting an early break to go up 2-1, aggressively attacking each ball, which caused Hingis to deflect her shots instead of return them for winners. Hingis went on to save three break points, but in the end Seles took the first set, 6-4.

Hingis scrambled to try different techniques to catch Seles, administering drop shots that just did not pass the net and groundstrokes that were not enough to be winners.

In between sets, a despondent Hingis sat stiffly in her chair, and her gloominess carried into the second set. Seles exuded a sense of confidence that sustained her to overtake a now-baffled Hingis, breaking her at 4-2. Seles would carry her momentum from the first set, continuing to obliterate Hingis at the baseline with outstanding groundstroke winners. It would be a cross-court return winner that would give Seles the match, 6-4, 6-2.

By departing in the fourth round, this marks the first time in six years that Hingis has not made the semifinals. Awaiting Seles in the quarterfinals is Venus Williams, fresh off her close win against Chanda Rubin.

08/31/02 Seles Hiccups But Gets By Cho
Sixth-seeded Monica Seles continued her quiet march through the main draw, recovering from a mid-match meltdown to record a third-round victory over Korea's Yoon-Jeong Cho, 6-1, 5-7, 6-3.

Seles, champion here in 1991 and 1992, looked like she was going to make quick work of the 106th-ranked Cho in the match in Arthur Ashe Stadium Saturday. Using her trademark sharp angles and a mix of deft drop shots, Seles broke Cho twice in the 23-minute first set and led, 5-1, in the second.

But the 23-year-old qualifier -- who had never advanced beyond the first round in her two previous Open appearances -- started to find her range. Cho engaged Seles in several long rallies and smacked some big forehand winners, breaking Seles as she served for the match at 5-2.

The American's concentration then seemed to float away, along with the occasional gusts of wind that disrupted her service toss. A spate of errors -- 21 for Seles to Cho's 12 -- saw the former champion drop the next six games and the set, 7-5.

A gutsy Cho could not hang on, as the 28-year-old Seles regained enough of her rhythm to take the third set with a pair of service breaks, including the final game. In the end, Cho, a steady baseliner who moves well, didn't have the weapons to hurt the former world No. 1 when it counted. The match lasted 1 hour and 51 minutes.

Seles, 28, is appearing in her 12th Open but has not gone beyond the quarterfinals since 1996. She will face the winner of the Martina Hingis vs. Amanda Coetzer third-round match.

08/31/02 Seles survives sudden meltdown at U.S. Open
NEW YORK - At first, it all seemed so simple and then, quite suddenly, it all became quite complicated for sixth-seeded Monica Seles at the U.S. Open. That's been the story of her tennis life lately.

Facing qualifier Yoon-Jeong Cho of South Korea, who had never defeated a top 20 player, Seles cruised through Saturday's first set 6-1 and was up 5-1 in the second.

At 0-30 on Cho's serve, Seles was two points away from a ho-hum victory, the kind that was once so routine for the former No. 1 player in the world. She was twice a winner of this final Grand Slam of the season.

But those championships and that ranking, were a lifetime ago for Seles who, at age 28, struggles with her game from week to week, never quite knowing how she will play.

Sometimes, the struggle is from set to set.

She was in trouble in the second round of the Open, dropping the first set to Barbara Schwartz of Austria, two points away from losing the match in a second-set tiebreak, before recovering to win it.

Against Cho, it was the exact opposite with Seles in position to complete an easy victory instead of being forced into a frantic comeback. But suddenly, it turned into another crisis for her.

With the wind swirling on center court, Cho made one point, then another and the match turned. She strung five straight winning games together to take the set before Seles recovered in time to salvage the match.

So what happened?

"It's not something I'm happy about," Seles said as she tried to explain the meltdown. "My brain went away from the court. It just went away. Definitely checked out of the tennis court. Lesson learned."

Part of it, Seles said, were Cho's slowball serves. Part of it was a lack of power on her own returns. All of it was disturbing to the former champion.

Seles had played Cho before. She recalled a tough two-setter in Japan. She knew this player could be trouble. For a long time Saturday, though, there was no trouble at all.

"I was actually surprised how easy things were," Seles said. "But definitely, I thought of that too soon."

After letting the second set get away with 21 unforced errors, Seles restored order and won the match to advance to the round of 16. At that stage, there are no more qualifiers on the other side of the net. Lapses like the one that occurred against Cho are frequently not forgiven.

That left Seles reflecting on what had happened.

"It's always great to pull through matches, but at the same time ... definitely I'm not playing as well as I would have liked to," she said. "The games that I lost went by really fast. I tightened up a little bit out there on my serve. I just was getting a little bit frustrated with myself. I was just happy that I could calm myself down and not kind of lose it out there mentally."

Then she brightened a bit.

"But Monday, it's a new ballgame," she said. "It's a different level of match you have to play."

It will have to be a better level for Seles to remain in this tournament.


08/29/02 Seles ekes out a win against Schwartz
NEW YORK - Very little went Monica Seles' way for the better part of two sets. Then, suddenly, she was in control of the match.

Supported warmly by fans on a cold, damp night, the American Seles regrouped after being two points from defeat and reached the U.S. Open's third round by beating Barbara Schwartz of Austria 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 Thursday.

"It's a great feeling at this stage of my career," said the sixth-seeded Seles, who won the U.S. Open in 1991 and 1992. "The crowd pulled me through tonight's match, big time. I came out very flat. The conditions were tough. She is a tough opponent to play. She doesn't give you any rhythm."

She had 25 unforced errors to 18 winners in the first two sets. The ratio was six errors to 14 winners in the third.

Schwartz needed just two points to close out the match at 5-5 in the tiebreaker.

"She was not fully in the game at the moment. I was playing maybe the best tennis I can play," said Schwartz, who beat Seles in straight sets in a Fed Cup match in April. In the latter stages of the match, the Austrian said, "She tried more, she was hitting harder."

Seles owns nine Grand Slam tournament titles, a total which very likely would have been higher had she not been off the tour for more than two years after being stabbed during a match in Germany in 1993.

Seles hasn't been to a major final since the 1998 French Open, but she doesn't have definitive ideas about how much longer she'll play.

"My life is very complicated even right now today, sitting here. I just really love the game. It's so simple for me. As a little girl, that's why I started," Seles said.

How long will she stay on tour?

"As long as I can compete professionally, and I'm happy at that level, injury-free," she said.


08/27/02 Seles Takes Gubacsi in Straight Sets
In her 12th appearance at the US Open, sixth-seeded Monica Seles made short work of Zsofia Gubacsi , beating the Hungarian in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. Even allowing for 24 unforced errors (to Gubacsi's 21) and seven double faults (to Gubacsi's 4), Seles nonetheless hit 22 winners to clinch the 58-minute match.

Seles, who is the winner of 53 career singles titles including nine Grand Slams, now faces Barbara Schwartz of Austria in the second round.


08/02/02 Seles withdraws from JPMorgan Chase Open
Monica Seles, forced to withdraw from the Acura Classic earlier this week, will also miss next week's JPMorgan Chase Open because of an inflammation in the arch of her right foot.

Seles, ranked fourth in the world, was injured during a practice last Saturday.

Among those competing in the JPMorgan Chase Open at the Manhattan Country Club will be No. 1-ranked Serena Williams, defending champion Lindsay Davenport and Australian Open winner Jennifer Capriati.

The singles champion will earn $93,000 from a total purse of $585,000.


07/31/02 Pilot Pen Sets Sights On Seles, Kournikova For Wild Cards
The Pilot Penn is hoping to write the names of Monica Seles and Anna Kournikova to its field already filled with notable names. Fifteen of the top 20-ranked women in the world have committed to competing in the New Haven, Connecticut event and the tournament is pursuing fan favorites Monica Seles and Anna Kournikova to fill its wild card spots.

Second-ranked Venus Williams, Jelena Dokic, Justine Henin, Lindsay Davenport, Amelie Mauresmo, Daniela Hantuchova, Elena Dementieva, Anastasia Myskina and Daja Bedanova are among the prominent players who have committed to the tournament , which will be staged August 16th-24th at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.

Tournament director Anne Worcester has contacted representatives for both Seles and Kournikova to offer the players wild cards into the draw. Both players are reportedly considering competing at the Pilot Pen, but their participation depends upon their results at the Rogers AT&T Canada Cup, scheduled for August 12-18th in Montreal. Should either player make an early-round exit in Montreal it's likely they would enter the Pilot Pen as preparation for the US Open, however if either player advances deep into the Montreal draw it reduces the likelihood of a New Haven appearance.

A quarterfinalist at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California last week, Kournikova collides with American Alexandra Stevenson in tonight's featured first-round match on stadium court at the Acura Classic in San Diego, California. The fourth-ranked Seles, who was upset by Lisa Raymond in Stanford last week, withdrew from the Acura Classic due to an inflammation in the arch of her right foot.


07/30/02 Seles withdraws from Acura Classic with foot injury
SAN DIEGO -- American Mnica Seles, a former world No. 1, pulled out of the $775,000 Acura Classic due to an inflammation of the arch in her right foot, tournament officials announced Tuesday.

Seles, 28, returned home to rest and recover after being upset by compatriot Lisa Raymond in the quarterfinals at last week's Stanford hardcourt event.

The leader among active WTA players with 53 career titles, Seles has never won this tournament, finishing as the runner-up in 1991, 1997, 2000 and 2001.

Seles is expected to compete in next week's $585,000 J.P. Morgan Chase Open at Los Angeles.


07/26/02 Raymond upsets Seles; Davenport, Clijsters advance at Bank of the West

STANFORD, California - Lisa Raymond upset third-seeded Monica Seles 6-4, 6-2 Friday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic.

Seles, a nine-time Grand Slam champion who reached the quarterfinals of the French Open and Wimbledon this year, was simply overpowered by her U.S. Fed Cup teammate on a hot day at the Taube Family Tennis Center.

"I feel great about going out there and maintaining that level of tennis for two straight sets," Raymond said. "I know it's been in me. It was just a matter of believing in myself. When I get out there with a top player, I don't believe I should be out on the court with them sometimes."

In Saturday's semifinals, Raymond will face the winner of Venus Williams match with Anna Kournikova later Friday night. Williams beat Raymond 6-1, 6-2 in the fourth round at Wimbledon earlier this summer.

Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters, who both easily won their quarterfinal matches earlier Friday, will meet in the other semifinal. The second-seeded Davenport defeated No. 5 Jelena Dokic of Yugoslavia 6-2, 6-2, while Clijsters beat wild card Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-3.

Raymond, a doubles specialist who won her third career singles tournament at Memphis earlier this year, hit serves reaching 104 mph and rarely made errors. She needed just 58 minutes to earn her second career victory over Seles, a two-time winner at Stanford.

"She just played really well," said Seles, ranked No. 4 in the world. "She was serving well and hitting her forehand, and whenever I had chances, I made a lot of unforced errors. I have to play a better level of tennis if I want to beat a player like that."

Earlier, Davenport looked as comfortable as she did in earning the world's top ranking in 2001 before a right knee injury ended her season in November.

"I have far exceeded my expectations by the way I'm playing," said Davenport, who fell to No. 9 in the world while she was out. "I've been off for more than nine months, and I didn't know how I'd react."

Davenport reacted with grace and fluidity on the court, overpowering the sixth-ranked player with hard ground strokes and placement in 48 minutes.

"I had the same problems against her I had before," said Dokic, who fell to 0-7 against Davenport. "I didn't see a difference. It seems like she's hitting the ball better. I'm very surprised at the way she's playing. I didn't think she'd be playing that well coming back."

Davenport, who was 5-of-6 on break points against Dokic, returned to action with two Fed Cup matches last weekend against Israel.

"I'm amazed. These are new waters for me," Davenport said. "I've had two really good matches, and I'm proud of the way I've come back. Now I have to try and keep playing at this level."

Clijsters, the defending champion and fourth seed, was impressed by her 17-year-old opponent's mobility. But with her boyfriend, No. 1 men's star Lleyton Hewitt, watching from the stands, Clijsters easily advanced to the semifinals.

"I felt like I had to be a little bit more aggressive, because she was getting to all the balls I was hitting," said Clijsters, who asked her younger sister for a scouting report on Jankovic. "She runs really well, and she hits the ball hard."


07/21/02 Seles rolls over Smashnova for U.S. Fed Cup win
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - There was no controversy and little challenge for the American Fed Cup team this time around.

Determined to make up for an embarrassing loss to Austria earlier in the year, the Americans took the first two matches Saturday in the best-of-five series against Israel, then Monica Seles overwhelmed Anna Smashnova 6-4, 6-0 Sunday to put the United States back into the 16-nation World Group.

"It was just like a huge relief I think off all of our shoulders," Seles said. "We knew it was kind of a do-or-die situation here."

The Americans, who have won a record 17 Fed Cup championships, lost to Austria after team captain Billie Jean King dismissed Jennifer Capriati in a bitter dispute over practice rules.

"We just wanted to win it," Seles said. "I was just very relieved and happy. We had a lot of pressure coming in. After losing to Austria, that was really hard on all of us. It's been such a good week for us, on and off the court."

In the second singles match Sunday, Lindsay Davenport beat Tzippi Obziler 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1), the only time the Americans did not win in straight sets.

Appearing to fight her motivation as much as her opponent, Davenport split the first two sets, went down an early break in the third before she broke Obziler's serve and ran out the match.

"Lindsay was teasing me when I walked into the tent just now, 'You know how difficult it is for me to play these matches,'" King said.

After Seles won a close first set, Smashnova seemed to wilt in the 90-degree heat and under pressure of her opponent's unrelenting ground strokes.

"I think I did get a little bit tired," said Smashnova, Israel's No. 1 player. "But Monica also got tired. She was the one leading, so it's easier to maybe keep tiredness when you're winning than when you're losing."

The U.S. team took a 2-0 lead Saturday when Seles beat Obziler 6-4, 6-2, and Davenport, in her first competition since knee surgery in January, defeated Smashnova 6-3, 6-3.

Seles made seven unforced errors in the first set and was having difficulty with her forehand. But Smashnova double-faulted twice on deuce.

"I thought Monica played better today," King said. "She was much more aggressive off the ground particularly, and also a little bit on her serve. I think that made a big difference."

After breaking Seles' serve to get back to 5-4, Smashnova was unable to maintain the momentum.

The pattern continued in the second set as Seles became more aggressive with her ground strokes and Smashnova appeared to slow.

"I'm just happy I won," Seles said. "I'm not really happy with my game, but there's more to improve."

In the final competition Sunday, Meghann Shaughnessy and Lisa Raymond, the world's No. 1-ranked doubles player, were matched against Obziler and Hila Rosen.

The Americans moved into the World Group for the 2003 Fed Cup with a victory in their final match of the year.

Also winning playoffs to get into the World Group next year were Australia, China, Argentina, Czech Republic, Sweden and Slovenia.

In the Fed Cup quarterfinals, defending champion Belgium played without Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin and was eliminated by Italy.

The countries entered Sunday tied 1-1, but Silvia Farina Elia beat Els Callens 6-2, 7-6 (4), and Rita Grande defeated Carolina Maes 6-4, 7-6 (5) to put Italy in the semifinals.

Clijsters and Henin, both Grand Slam tournament finalists in 2001 and ranked in the top seven, skipped the matches on clay in Bologna to concentrate on the hard-court season and the upcoming U.S. Open.

Also reaching the final four were Austria, Spain and Slovakia. Austria beat Croatia, Spain topped Germany, and Slovakia surprised France.


07/20/02 Seles, Davenport win first two Fed Cup matches
SPRINGFIELD, Missouri - Monica Seles breezed past Tzipi Obziler 6-4, 6-2, and Lindsay Davenport overpowered Anna Smashnova 6-3, 6-3 Saturday, giving the United States a 2-0 lead over Israel in their Fed Cup playoff.

Davenport, sidelined from serious competition since injuring her knee in November and returning from knee surgery in January, showed the same power that once made her No. 1 in the world, dominating Smashnova with power serves and ground strokes that pushed Israel's No. 1 player far behind the baseline.

Davenport showed signs of rust by making a number of unforced errors. But whether she was hitting winners or unforced errors, Davenport controlled the tempo of the match, played in 32-degree (90 F) heat.

In the second match, Seles demonstrated too much experience and savvy for her lesser-ranked opponent.

To close out the first set, Obziler crushed a backhand passing shot down the line. But Seles lunged to her right and feathered a short-angle, backhand drop shot that clinched the set and brought a collective gasp from the audience of about 2,000.

After a 6-4 first set, she took total control of the match in the first meeting between the two. In a somewhat uneven first set, Seles appeared to do only as much as she needed to stay ahead.

Davenport struggled only when she was serving for the match at 5-3. Smashnova fought off three match points before the Davenport gave the U.S. team the opening victory in the best-of-five competition.

Davenport's second serves were in the 85 mph (136 kph) range — usually faster than Smashnova's first serves.

Davenport consistently tried to draw Smashnova wide, which opened the court for multiple winners down the line.


07/03/02 Seles not sure when she'll quit tennis, 'enjoy life'

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Under a ceiling of dark clouds,Monica Seles gathered her rackets and towel and trudged off Centre Court, stopping for a moment to sign a few autographs.

Even she's uncertain how many times she might take that walk again.

Wimbledon is the only major Seles has never won and she lost in the quarterfinals Tuesday, beaten by 2001 runner-up Justine Henin 7-5, 7-6 (4) in a match interrupted twice by rain.

At 28, Seles has hinted at the possibility of retiring in the near future, although she maintains she still could win what would be her 10th Grand Slam title.

``I don't want to have that pressure to say, 'OK, I'm going to definitely retire by this certain date or this year.' No need to do that. I'm not a person who is going to have a farewell tour or that stuff,'' Seles said. ``I'm just going to play, and when that point comes that my body (is tired) or mentally I'm tired of it, I'll stop, enjoy life a little bit.''

Asked Tuesday if she might have to accept that Wimbledon will be the one that got away, the fourth-seeded Seles said: ``Oh, yeah, definitely that could be the case. I'm fine with that.''

She never quite seemed comfortable against No. 6 Henin, looking as though she couldn't decide whether to swap swats from the baseline or try to come to the net.

``Just having a hard time finding the range with my groundstrokes. I was missing a lot more,'' said Seles, who had 23 unforced errors to 16 for Henin. ``And when that was the case, I said, 'OK, let's just try to change that up.' But it's kind of hard to do that.''

She still can hit the ball about as hard as always, and often managed to find the lines Tuesday with those same two-handed strokes from both sides.

Another thing that never changed over the years -- the two-note grunts accompanying each swing. They are a sort of audio Rorschach test everyone can take: What word or words do you hear?

Seles turned pro at age 15 in 1989. By the time she was 19, she had won eight Grand Slam titles. Yet she's been past the quarters only once at the All England Club -- in 1992, when she lost to Steffi Graf in the final.

Less than a year later, on April 30, 1993, a man climbed out of the stands at a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, and stabbed her. The psychological and physical scars took time to heal.

``That made me the person that I am. Certain things you cannot forget. That changed the course of my career,'' she said.

``There's no need to go back there, you know, day in, day out, to revisit that. That's part of me and that will always stay there. But at the same time, right now I'm in a happy position.''

Seles returned to the game 27 months later and displayed remarkable resilience. That she was back on court was impressive in itself; that she immediately reached the 1995 U.S. Open final and then won the '96 Australian Open was downright stunning.

In May 1998, her father and coach, Karolj, died of cancer. She wore his ring around a chain on her neck during that year's French Open, the last time she reached a major final.

``Oh, I really want to add any Grand Slam title,'' she said Tuesday, ``but obviously Wimbledon even more because I've never won it.''


07/02/02 Disappointed Seles Praises Henin
There was a certain amount of disappointment as the Wimbledon title eluded Monica Seles once again but the holder of nine Grand Slam titles was philosophical, accepting that, as the years go by, it becomes increasingly more difficult.

"That is definitely the case and I'm fine with that," she said. "But I will give it my best shot - that's the best I can do. I really want to win any Grand Slam but obviously Wimbledon even more because I've never won it."

There was no thought of retirement, either. "After a match like this [against Justine Henin], that never crossed my mind. I'm just more disappointed about that match and that's what I worry about."

What was perhaps more galling was that she was beaten by a girl who was not only eight years her junior, but a player she had never lost to in four previous encounters, though none had been on grass.

"Grass suits her game more than other surfaces and she played a wonderful match today," said Seles. "While I think I played well overall during the tournament, I could have been less error prone. But Justine was just too good at the end there."

Henin admitted that today she finally cast off the shackles that had hampered her in their previous matches. "Today I finally wasn't afraid to play my game against her," she said. "The key was to be aggressive and take the match at the net, and I did just that in the tie-break. That was what was important, that I went out to take the match."

Looking ahead to her next opponent, the defending Champion who beat her in last year's final, Henin said she had not had time to think about it.

"It is going to be tough, especially on grass," the Belgian said. "She has won her matches easily so I know it is going to be difficult, but it was difficult today and I won. I have nothing to lose."

As far as she was concerned, last year's final was part of her learning curve for she believes that she will appear in many more Grand Slam championship matches. "I needed more experience," she declared. "It is good for me to be back in the semi-final and I will just try and enjoy my game, be aggressive and serve like I did today. It's going to be another day and we'll see what happens."

07/02/02 Henin Heads Into Semi-Finals
The fourth seed up against the sixth usually produces a close contest and that proved to be the case when Monica Seles and Justine Henin met in the quarter-finals on Centre Court.

It was a clash of contrasting styles and generations, the powerful two-handed modern game adopted by the 28 year-old Seles versus the classical approach of Henin, the 20 year-old Belgian who was Runner-up in last year's Championships.

Experience was certainly up against youth, and experience had the psychological edge having won all four of their previous meetings. Both arrived at the quarter-final stage for the loss of just one set with Henin having made heavier weather of it surviving some tight matches including three tie-breaks.

She followed that pattern falling behind early and just re-establishing the status quo when the rains fell at 4-all, forcing them off-court for just over 80-minutes.

They quickly picked up where they left off with some brutal exchanges, Seles showing why she was still up there in the top echelons when she turned attack into defence, rarely retreating and more often than not working her way up the court.

However, two errors cost her dearly, one forced by Henin pulling her wide and the second when she missed the baseline with a backhand.

Henin quickly pocketed the set but as expected, Seles was equally quickly back on the attack sweeping into a 3-1 lead, losing it three games later as Henin counter attacked.

Seles, who keeps on the move even at the change-overs, kept her nose in front to hold out for the tie-break. Unfortunately, her game disintegrated somewhat there as the Belgian shot-maker swept into a 4-1 lead, securing her semi-final place when Seles dropped a service return off her backhand into the net for a 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) victory.

Her opponent in the semi-final will be defending Champion, Venus Williams, in a repeat of last year's final.

07/01/02 Seles Sails Through
It was a stroll in the park for Monica Seles who obviously hadn't heard of the court's "Graveyard of Champions" reputation. Indeed, it didn't augur well when she and her Thai opponent, Tamarine Tanasugarn, arrived at No. 2 Court only to scamper back as the heavens opened up.

They returned some two hours later, and within 49 minutes Seles stepped up to serve out to love and advance into the quarter-finals, 6-2, 6-2.

For Tanasugarn, who had never beaten Seles in their previous four meetings, the defeat meant that she had been unable to break her jinx of progressing past the fourth round, the stage at which she has now been ousted from The Championships every year since 1998.

Seles, 28, seeded fourth and playing her ninth Wimbledon, dominated Tamasugarn from the outset. Her ground strokes were as accurate and powerfully struck as ever. She won seven consecutive games from 3-2 in the first to 4-0 in the second.

This quick win means she won't have extended herself too much. Her next opponent is Justine Henin, who has struggled so far in these Championships and has not reproduced the form that took her to the final against Venus Williams last year.

If Seles continues to maintain the form she showed today over next few days, then she could well be the dark horse of the tournament.

07/01/02 Seles Sends Henin Warning at Wimbledon
By Pritha Sarkar

WIMBLEDON (Reuters) - Fourth seed Monica Seles was barely tested as she marched into the quarter-finals of Wimbledon with a 6-2 6-2 demolition of Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn on Monday.

The ruthless manner of the win would have sent warning signals to her last-eight opponent, 2001 runner-up Justine Henin, who survived two tiebreak sets to get past Elena Dementieva.

"Justine loves to play on grass and it is a difficult match for me so I will have to play some great tennis against her," said nine-times slam champion Seles who is still looking for her first Wimbledon title.

Seles will also go into the match with the mental edge as she has beaten the Belgian in each of their four previous meetings.

"This is the surface that suits her game the best and she will want to repeat last year's performance and maybe go one better," said Seles.

"I'm just looking forward to a very tough match."

HEAVY RAINFALL

Seles, who had started her warm-up on court two before being forced off for two hours because of heavy rainfall, quickly got into her stride and applied pressure on the Thai's serve from the very first game.

While the 24th-ranked Tanasugarn managed to stave off one break point by wrong-footing Seles at the baseline and driving an easy forehand winner into an empty court, she had no answer to the 28-year-old American's scorching service return two points later and misfired it into the crowd.

With the break in hand, the former world number one efficiently went about her task and Tanasugarn dropped her serve again in the seventh game after Seles forced her into a chain of forehand errors.

Unleashing a barrage of stinging serves, Seles wrapped up the first set in 24 minutes after yet another one of the Thai's forehands sailed long.

The boisterous crowd, whose enthusiasm was barely dampened by the rain delay, tried to spur on 25-year-old Tanasugarn in the second but to little avail.

The 1992 Wimbledon finalist, who had never lost a set to Tanasugarn in four previous meetings, kept attacking the Thai's brittle forehand and reeled off seven straight games from 3-2 in the first to race to a 4-0 in the second set.

Bidding to reach her first grand slam quarter-final, Tanasugarn tried to stop the Seles charge but had to make do with winning just two service games in the 28-minute set and meekly surrendered the match by netting yet another forehand.


06/30/02 Wimbledon title for Seles would be dream come true

Wimbledon, England -- There's a dream match in the Wimbledon women's singles that nobody talks about. It's certainly not Williams vs. Williams -- that's something even Venus and Serena don't want to see -- or the looming, inevitable showdowns between Jennifer Capriati and the sisters.

By the conclusion of Saturday's play, with the British springtime weather once again cooperating magnificently, it was evident that Monica Seles is alive, well and vibrant. At 28, she continues to make one of the most heartwarming and important psychological recoveries in the history of sports. What if she played Venus in the semifinals? What if Seles won Wimbledon?

It's the one Grand Slam tournament Seles didn't win in her brief, unprecedented dominance of the women's tour in the early 90s. She was too inexperienced on grass back then, too unfamiliar with the pace and funny bounces, but after she lost the 1992 Wimbledon final to Steffi Graf, the general feeling was that Monica had plenty of time.

She had less than a year, it turned out. The horrible on-court stabbing occurred the following April, in Hamburg, Germany, and Seles didn't return to Wimbledon until 1996. Her best performances since then have been a couple of quarterfinal appearances, and she rarely seemed a legitimate threat to win the tournament -- or any other event, for that matter.

To watch Seles being interviewed on Saturday, after her 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, third-round victory over Ai Sugiyama, was to venture back in time. Curious as it seems, you're something of an old-timer if you remember those days. Back when Seles was not only the most dynamic teenager the game had ever seen, but the tour's glamour girl, as well.

Hers wasn't a heartthrob brand of glamour. People didn't fawn over Seles the way they did over Gabriela Sabatini or Bettina Bunge and still do over Anna Kournikova. But they fell in love with her, all the same.

Seles grew up in an ethnic Hungarian enclave of Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, and when she came to America, by way of the Nick Bollittieri tennis camp in Florida, she embraced it like a brand new toy.

She idolized Madonna, socialized with royalty and looked stunningly good in the finest international fashion, but at heart she was innocent and kind. In news conferences, she giggled after everything she said. When she took the court at the '89 French Open flipping roses to the crowd and her opponent, Zina Garrison, she had no idea that the gesture spoke of arrogance.

Scanning the tour, people had reasons to feel distant from Chris Evert (a machine), Jennifer Capriati (too young), Graf (ice cold), Sabatini (nobody home) and Martina Navratilova (topics abound). Unless you couldn't stand the frightful sounds she made on each point, there wasn't a reason in the world to dislike Monica Seles.seemed she was the youngest everything: Youngest to reach No. 1 (at 17), to win the French Open, to win the Australian Open. She began to dominate Graf, who had owned the tour to that point. She won seven of the first 13 Grand Slam tournaments she played in. To this day, in the category of pure ball-striking for a flat, hard and angled shot, observers place her in the heady company of Andre Agassi. Navratilova once took a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Seles at the Italian Open and said it was "like being run over by a truck."

By the time her wounds had healed, she was fighting more than a cruel, inconceivable incident. She was bitter that the man, a Graf devotee named Gunther Parche, walked free. She was devastated by the death of her father, Karolj, a wise and generous filmmaker who used to paint cartoon characters on tennis balls to make her practice more fun.

She gained weight, at a disturbing pace, claiming that a good meal was the one thing that could calm her down. And she was horrified by the warfare in her native Yugoslavia, once saying, "I see images from my childhood, bridges where I used to run as a kid being blown up."

Through it all, and finally a sweet serenity that characterizes her life these days, she has moved only forward. She not only avoids the tapes of the glory years, she says she can hardly remember those days: her behavior, her tennis game, any of it.

Perhaps it's that she'd rather not remember. They are moments that will never be recaptured. No longer silly and carefree, she's more the voice of reason on tour now, a paragon of class and perspective. And that seems to suit her just fine.

So you glance at the draw, just on a whim. You imagine Seles outclassing Tamarine Tansugarn in the next round, then somehow getting past Justine Henin or Elena Dementieva, and then it's the semifinals against Venus, whom she defeated in a taut three-setter at this year's Australian Open. It's the only time she's beaten Venus in eight tries, but it's the evidence you keep. In a Wimbledon gone mad, it's quite all right to dream.


06/29/02 Seles reaches round of 16
By SELENA ROBERTS

Wimbledon, England: Surrounded by young players with the attention spans of channel surfers, in the middle of the hard-abs generation, Monica Seles has maintained a concentration and perspective that has left her at peace with her place in the game.

She doesn't have the mobility of the Williams sisters and isn't as dedicated to Tae-Bo as Jennifer Capriati, but after a career of nearly 15 years, Seles has resisted the painful fades of her tennis contemporaries.

Resilience was her ally again today. After a sloppy start against Ai Sugiyama, Seles buffed up her ground strokes to finish off a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory. Even though she could hear the emotional eruptions on Wimbledon's Henman Hill outside her court, where the British were cheering and groaning over every miss or make by their own Tim Henman as they watched his match unfold on a jumbo TV, Seles tunneled in to advance to the fourth round.

It is almost automatic. Out of 36 major appearances, Seles has failed to advance to the Round of 16 only four times. As an ode to her unflappable concentration and a tribute to her unconditional love of tennis, Seles rarely loses to players ranked beneath her. Just how long she will keep this up is unclear. When it comes time, Seles, 28, will just know.

"I don't want to have that pressure to say, `O.K., I'm going to definitely retire by this certain date or this year,' " Seles said. "No need to do that. I'm not a person who is going to have a farewell tour or that stuff. I'm just going to play, and when that point comes that my body is tired or I'm tired mentally, I'll stop and enjoy life a little bit.

"There is a lot of traveling, a lot of sacrifices in your personal life when you want to be at a high level."

She has dropped off, but it has not been a dramatic undoing. At times, she has tried to improve her serve and is more of a frequent visitor to the net, but Seles hasn't tinkered with the core of what works. Today, match point could have been from the file of any victory in her career: after pulling Sugiyama off the court with a two-fisted forehand, she unleashed a grunt and a backhand down the opposite line for a winner.

No fist pump, no showboating. Seles kept her head down, greeted Sugiyama at the net and shyly smiled at the crowd out of appreciation for their support. The fans haven't deserted her, with each one trying to will her to a last major before she calls her career a day. On grass, that appears unlikely.

"Grass is Seles's toughest surface," said Chris Evert, who lost to a 15-year-old Seles in 1989. "Mobility enters into it. Hate to say you're getting older, but she's been around since she was 13. She has had 15 years on circuit, and as she gets older, it's tough to protect herself. The top three players are on a level by themselves."

True, but as sluggish as her footwork may be, Seles has sidestepped the rush of teens jostling to break into the top 10, planting herself solidly as the fourth-ranked player in the world. Granted, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis have been injured, but Seles is still ahead of the Belgian teens Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.

They were about 5 years old when Seles made her debut in 1988, the year Pete Sampras turned pro. But unlike Sampras, and other ragged stars hovering around 30, Seles has aged gracefully and graciously.

Instead of exuding the bitterness of a Yevgeny Kafelnikov and begrudging the young stars' success, Seles has defied a tennis atmosphere that stunts the growth of its players.

She has matured despite it. She knows what's important. In 1993, she was stabbed on a changeover by a deranged fan of Steffi Graf's. Twenty-seven months later, she returned not as a victim, but as a survivor.

"I had nothing to do with that one day; it was beyond my control," Seles said. "Everything in my life that was in my control, I'm very happy with."

No period has been particularly easy. A few months after her return from the stabbing, she won her ninth major title, the 1996 Australian Open. But two years later, her father, Karolj Seles, both her friend and coach, died at the end of a long illness.

"She knows tennis is just a game now," said Billie Jean King, the Fed Cup coach who has been able to count on Seles to support the team. "She's very clear on that. She's a wonderful person, very high strung.

"She has her rituals, which most champions do. One of them is hitting against the wall for 10 minutes after each practice. If you have ever seen her hit against wall when she's 3 feet from it and can smack the ball on either side and everything, it's amazing. I love watching her do that. I have never seen anybody do that ever in my life. So it's pretty awesome."

The process of playing tennis professionally still intrigues Seles. She thinks about strategy, about riding momentum. Today, she had to regain the edge when her game was letting her down against Sugiyama.

"It comes down to one or two points," Seles said. "I had a good wake-up call after losing that first set. It made me more focused."

One day, she will grow tired of the mental strain. Unlike Sampras and other peers, she doesn't seem to fear moving on. As a top 5 player, there is no reason to pack up just yet, but she looks forward to the day when she can let her mind wander without worrying about the consequences on the court.

"I'm going to take a year off and just really have a life," said Seles, predicting what retirement might be like. "Since I was 7 or 8 years old, I've always had a schedule."

Right now, her next appointment is for another Round of 16 appearance.


06/29/02 Seles Stutters Past Sugiyama
Fourth seeded Monica Seles advanced to the fourth round after losing a set for the first time in nine matches to the Japanese player Ai Sugiyama. Seles won 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in 97 minutes on No.1 Court.

Sugiyama's record against Seles was so uninspiring that an upset looked unlikely against the American, who was runner-up to Steffi Graf in the Wimbledon final in 1992.

But Sugiyama settled more quickly to the demands of the third round match and after threatening to break serve in the first game actually did so in the third. Seles broke back for 3-3 but Sugiyama gained a second break to lead 4-3 and held on to that to take the first set in 41 minutes.

Seles, who had beaten Sugiyama in Indian Wells for the loss of only one game earlier this year, now began to repair the damage and jumped into a 5-0 lead in the second set before losing a game. Seles missed three set points at 5-1 but then held her own serve to love to level the match.

For the first four games of the final set, Sugiyama stayed in the hunt but she lost her serve in the fifth game and again in the seventh to fall behind 5-2.

Then Seles, serving for the match, lost her serve to love and had to wait for her next service game to win through with a backhand on her first match point.

"I knew that she [Sugiyama] would be a tough opponent today," Seles said. "I had a good wake-up call when I lost that first set. It made me just really play and be more focused."

06/27/02 Pranksters Hop on Court After Seles Match
WIMBLEDON (Reuters) - Two pranksters breached Wimbledon security Thursday and started an impromptu tennis match on Center Court only moments after women's fourth seed Monica Seles had departed.

The men, dressed in white, jumped from the stands and began playing tennis on the revered grass court before being led away by security guards, much to the amusement of the crowd.

But the incident brought back memories of the horrific 1993 court-side stabbing incident in Hamburg involving Seles.

"We are treating this matter very seriously," an All England Club spokesman said in a statement. "It was extremely irresponsible. We will obviously be reviewing security procedures."

Seles was stabbed by a fanatical fan of Steffi Graf during a match against Magdelena Maleeva, forcing her out of the game for more than two years.

The American had just completed her second-round match against Rossana Neffa-De Los Rios when two men appeared.

Asked about the incident during her post match conference: she tensed and said: "I couldn't comment, I didn't see it."

A club spokesman told Reuters he suspected the men were the same pranksters who had pulled similar tricks at the Lord's cricket ground in London and posed with the Manchester United soccer team for a photo last year. The man involved in the latter incident was Carl Power.

Seles said Tuesday that the Hamburg incident was still with her.

"That made me the person I am," she had told reporters.

"Certain things you cannot forget. That changed the course of my career.

"There's no need to go back there, day in, day out, to revisit that."


06/27/02 Seles Stakes Place in 3rd Round
At the age of 28, Monica Seles may be too far down the line to entertain realistic hopes of a Wimbledon crown to add to the nine Grand Slams she has already won, but she still performs consistently at the All England Club.

Today, in her ninth appearance at The Championships, she moved into the third round with a solid 6-4 6-0 victory in 57 minutes over the exotically-named Rosanna Neffa-De Los Rios from Paraguay.

The problem for Neffa was that she plays virtually the same baseline game as Seles, but not to the same level of excellence. Though she matched Seles shot for shot in the opening set, it was clear that the 1992 Wimbledon runner-up was biding her time, waiting to pounce.

The opportunity came in the tenth game when the South American's concentration faltered, offering Seles set point on a backhand lob which floated beyond the baseline. Seles seized the moment, won the set and was in the driving seat.

The advantage was rammed home ruthlessly as Monica broke serve in the second and fourth games, cruised into a 5-0 lead and watched Neffa self-destruct in the final game with an overhit backhand to match point down, then a weak forehand into the net. The second set lasted a mere 22 minutes.

06/25/02 Wimbledon-Seles Still Hoping for Grand Slam Wins

LONDON (Reuters) - At the ripe old age of 28, Monica Seles still believes she can win a grand slam tournament, but conceded it may never happen at Wimbledon.

She was in devastating form Tuesday, sweeping effortlessly into the second round of the grasscourt grand slam without dropping a single game in her 6-0, 6-0 drubbing of hapless Spaniard Eva Bes.

Seles, one of the greatest players never to have won Wimbledon, showed great speed, power and authority against her overawed opponent, who is 94 places behind her in the world rankings. And it certainly showed in 38 one-sided minutes.

The Yugoslav-born American, whose all-conquering career ground to a halt in 1993 when she was stabbed by a fanatical fan of Steffi Graf, still clearly has an appetite for the sport she adores.

She has lost none of her old zest, and still firmly believes she can add to her career total of nine grand slam titles.

"I really believe that. That's one thing that keeps that drive ... But realistically this is the tournament I have the least chance," she told reporters.

Seles was generous in praise of sisters Venus and Serena Williams as world No. 1 and 2.

"They deserve that honor," she said. "They definitely are the players to beat at this tournament."

Seles is still one of the most dangerous and respected women in tennis even though she is still a far cry from the player who from 1990 to 1993 won the Australian and French Opens three times each and two U.S. Open titles.

CRAZED KNIFEMAN

Then Guenther Parche stabbed her and ended her golden run, forcing her out of the game for over two years. It took a great deal of courage and no small amount of talent to bounce back and win the 1996 Australian Open.

But that horrific day in Hamburg in 1993 is still with her.

"That made me the person I am," she said. "Certain things you cannot forget. That changed the course of my career. There's no need to go back there, day in, day out, to revisit that."

And as for retirement?

"I really don't know, I'm taking it a week at a time," she said. "I really am at a great stage in my career where truly I'm playing it because I want to -- for no-one else, for money or for whatever reasons."


06/25/02 Clean Sweep for Seles
Monica Seles took just 37 minutes to defeat Spain's Eva Bes and reach the second round of Wimbledon today.

The American completed a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash with a series of battering groundstrokes that left her opponent running from side to side gaining little success.

Bes only won 15 points in total as the world No.4 gave an exhibition of the strengths that saw her reach the final 10 years ago. The 28-year-old Seles merely stepped up her game during the only time when the Spaniard looked slightly threatening.

Fourth seed Seles is often forgotten by tipsters as a possible champion, with Venus and Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati being the names on most people's lips.

She declined to talk up her chances, saying: "It doesn't annoy me that people are talking about the Williams sisters and Jennifer. It's a tough pressure when you are top. I experienced that in the early Nineties.

"Venus and Serena deserve the honour of being No.1 and No.2. I am just happy to be playing injury-free and at a decent level. I play the game because I love it."

06/19/02 Seles, Davenport to head U.S. Fed Cup squad

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- Lindsay Davenport, who has missed all of this season with a knee injury, will return to action in a Fed Cup qualifying series against Israel next month.

Also chosen for the U.S. squad by captain Billie Jean King were fourth-ranked Monica Seles, top-ranked doubles player Lisa Raymond and Meghann Shaughnessy.

The United States will play Israel on hardcourts in Springfield, Mo., July 20-21, for the chance to rejoin the Fed Cup world group next year.

The Americans, who have won the cup a record 17 times, were eliminated from the top group by a first-round loss to Austria earlier this year in a series marked by King's dismissal of the team's top player, Jennifer Capriati, in a dispute over practice rules.

King said the best-of-five series against Israel was crucial for the United States.

``We have assembled a very talented group of Americans to compete against Israel in Springfield,'' she said.

Davenport finished last season ranked No. 1 on the WTA Tour after winning seven singles titles and two doubles championships with Raymond. Her agent said last week that Davenport would return to the tour at the Bank of the West tournament in Stanford, Calif., on July 22.

Seles has played Fed Cup for the United States each year since 1996. She has 53 career singles titles, including nine in Grand Slam events, and won the Madrid Open last month.


06/04/02 Seles not ready to retire
PARIS (AP) - When Monica Seles stepped off the court Tuesday after her 6-4, 6-3 loss to Venus Williams in the French Open quarterfinals, the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

Whether it was their last chance to cheer the 28-year-old former champion was anyone's guess.

"(When) the moment comes that I won't be enjoying the practice, I'll stop," Seles said in another vague response to questions about retirement. "Realistically, I have definitely a maximum five years."

Seles made the quarterfinals this year in her return to Roland Garros. She missed the tournament last year because of a foot injury.


06/02/02 Monica grinds down Daniela
Showing as much focus and resilience as she has all year, three-time Roland Garros champ Monica Seles shattered the dreams of Slovakian upstart Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 7-5 to gain the quarterfinals on Sunday.

In grinding down a supremely talented teenager who many had expected to beat her, the veteran Seles withstood Hantuchova's withering pace with a straight ahead, hard-hitting attack. The 28-year-old Seles was the more consistent player of the day, serving efficiently, returning with authority and gamely sprinting sideline to sideline to chase down her more athletic foe's dipping shots. Moreover, the normally conservative Seles wasn't afraid to concoct a few new recipes herself, mixing in a few gorgeous drop shots at key moments.

Seles finished the day with 33 unforced errors to 52 from her foe.

Up a break in both sets, Indian Wells titlist Hantuchova had numerous opportunities, but failed to covert when it mattered most. For every laser-like forehand down the line, Hantuchova would bury a big groundstroke into the net.

Then 18-year old Slovak was broken to 4-2 in the second set when Seles whacked a return that she couldn't handle. But Hantuchova broke right back, gaining a break point with a striking short backhand crosscourt and breaking her foe when Seles couldn't scoop up a hard-driving backhand return.

Hantuchova fought off a match point at 4-5 with a big forehand crosscourt and swing volley winner. At 5-6, Hantuchova held off another match point with a huge crosscourt backhand, but on the next match point, Seles stabbed back a return and Hantuchova parked a backhand wide.

Seles will play the winner of the Venus Williams-Chanda Rubin match.

05/28/02 Seles Warns Against Overcrowded Tournament Schedules
PARIS (Reuters) - Tournament demands are jeopardizing the health of players in the women's game, former world No. 1 Monica Seles said on Tuesday.

Seles warned that the sport's governing body -- the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) -- must strike a delicate balance between satisfying tournament officials and protecting their top players if they are to avert the crisis.

The never-ending tennis calendar has meant that big names like Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport are absent from this year's French Open after undergoing surgery, while the likes of Venus and Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are all carrying injuries into the tournament.

"The tour will have to look at that (the schedule) because, looking at Martina and Lindsay, these are really young players who are having very serious surgeries," said Seles after her 6-7, 6-3, 6-0 first-round win over Spain's Angeles Montolio.

But Seles agreed that authorities faced a difficult task because tennis is now big business and the WTA -- under increasing pressure from sponsors and tournament promoters -- will lose out financially if player schedules are reduced.

"All those tournaments that were with us, when women's tennis wasn't popular, stuck with us. I think it would be very unfortunate to cut them out right now," she said.

"Their (WTA) job is to find the balance so that you're protecting the players. Hopefully the tour ... will make some adjustments."

VALUABLE POINTS

With a yearly rolling ranking system in women's tennis, players are often compelled to hobble from one tournament to the next in search of valuable ranking points and this has caused widespread injuries, according to Seles.

"It's a very grueling schedule. The number of tournaments that you have to play to qualify for the rankings are really tough I think year in, year out," said the No. 6 six.

"I have younger players coming up to me and they've been a few years on the tour and they're really dead tired.

"(At that stage) they really should have at least another good five to seven years in them."

Seles's comments echo those of former French Open champion Iva Majoli of Croatia, who said on Monday that the grueling schedule was to blame for the current injury crisis in the women's game.

Majoli, a surprise champion at Roland Garros in 1997, was sidelined for more than two years with a shoulder injury.


05/28/02 Seles Overcomes Montolio
Coming back from a 5-0 deficit in the first set, three-time Roland Garros champ Monica Seles stepped on the gas and ran over Spaniard Angeles Montolio 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0 to gain the second round on Tuesday.

On a cold and rainy day in Paris, the quick Montolio jumped out to a 5-0 lead as Seles couldn't get her body moving and framed shot after shot wide. But angry with her desultory play, Seles slapped her feet with her racket and began to find the range with her thunderous groundstrokes and fought her way back into the set, crushing Montolio's high looping shots and burying her second serves.

However, Montolio regained her nerve in the tiebreaker, running down Seles' numerous blasts, counterpunching effectively and not allowing the American to dictate play.

The two fought tooth and nail in the second set when they were forced to break for rain with Montolio serving at 3-3, 40-30.

But when they returned to court, Seles immediately broke Montolio to 4-3 when she whipped a backhand return of serve that the Spaniard couldn't handle. Seles then went on an amazing run, winning 38 of the next 53 points by completely controlling the center of the court with her blistering two-handed attack.

After losing the second set, Montolio quickly grew depressed and wasn't able to claw her way back into the contest.

The 26-year-old Montolio came into Roland Garros in a slump. After winning her third career title at Porto in April, she lost in the first round of four other clay court tournaments.

Seles came into the tournament fresh off her title run in Madrid. Although she started the year with a bang by upsetting Venus Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and winning Doha, she hasn't been able to make a major breakthrough since then, losing a heartbreaker semifinal to Jennifer Capriati in Miami and then catching a stomach virus prior to Rome.

While Seles has had more than her fair share of major success in Paris, she hasn't made a major push since 1998, when she reached the final and was stunned by Spanish whirlwind Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. She didn't compete here last year due to a right foot stress fracture.

Seles will play the winner of the Petra Mandula-Brie Rippner match.

05/25/02 Seles Trounces Rubin in Madrid Final
MADRID, Spain (AP) - Monica Seles routed Chanda Rubin 6-4, 6-2 Saturday to claim her 53rd career singles title at the Madrid Open.

Seles, who went into the tournament ranked sixth on the WTA tour, defeated the 65th-ranked Rubin in 1 hour and 7 minutes.

Seles and Rubin stayed even for the first eight games before Seles broke Rubin's service and claimed the last two games to take the first set. Seles quickly took control in the second, reaching a 4-0 advantage before Rubin recovered, too late to come back.

The second set lasted just 29 minutes.

After the match, Seles denied she plans to retire after the French Open, but didn't rule out quitting within the coming year.

"It's been said that I was thinking about retiring this season," she said.

"It was said after the Australian Open and it will be said again after Roland Garros. But I will keep playing as long as I enjoy myself on the courts. Maybe I'll stop this year, maybe not."

Seles reached the final after beating Paola Suarez in a rocky three-set match Friday that she called the "toughest of the week."

The victory came at Seles' sixth Madrid Open. The Yugoslav-born player won the tournament 10 years ago and reached the final again in 1997.

Seles, the tournament's favorite, won her second tournament this year after a victory in Qatar against Tamarine Tanasugarn.

Rubin reached the final after downing Fabiola Zuluaga in straight sets.

Rubin, who recently recovered from a knee injury, won the Madrid Open two years ago in a final against Zuluaga, but hasn't won a tournament since 2000.


05/24/02 Seles, Rubin to play for Madrid Open title
MADRID (Reuters) -- Top seed Monica Seles fought her way back from a set down to reach the final of the Spanish Open clay-court tournament with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over gutsy Argentine Paola Suarez on Friday.

The three-time French Open winner will now face Chanda Rubin in Saturday's final, after the American swept to an easy 6-4, 6-2 victory in her semi against Fabiola Zuluaga of Colombia.

"It was a very hard-fought match decided on just a crucial few points," said Seles.

"Paola served very well and I had a hard time breaking her. It was good to play someone as aggressive as her because I expect the same in tomorrow's final."

Suarez, who lost to Lindsay Davenport in the 1999 final, gave a gritty performance throughout and edged a tightly contested first set thanks to a break in the seventh game.

The 25-year-old Argentine pulled off numerous well-judged passing shots and forced Seles off the baseline with some delicate drop shots to go up 5-4. She then unleashed two impressive aces to finish the set with a flourish.

But the early setback brought the best out of the 28-year-old Seles, who began to find her range on her serve and her trademark two-handed drives. She dropped just one game as she raced through the second set.

Suarez, though, refused to fold and kept the pressure on Seles with her hard-hitting returns.

The turning point in the match came in the fifth game of the final set when Seles pulled off some pin-point passing shots to come back from 40-love down and break the Suarez serve.

With the next three games going with serve, Seles then showed she could move up a gear when she really needed to and broke the Suarez serve again to clinch the match.

Rubin, playing only her third tournament since recovering from knee surgery, produced a controlled performance against Zuluaga and was rarely troubled by her lower-ranked opponent.

A series of miscued forehands from the Colombian helped the hard-hitting Rubin break serve in the third game of the opening set and the American's well-judged drives gave her opponent little chance to take the initiative.

Although Rubin dropped her serve in the eighth game after Zuluaga pressured her into a series of forehand errors, she hit back immediately with another break to lead 5-4 and serve out to win the first set.

Zuluaga, who reached the final in Madrid two years ago, produced several deft drop-shot winners to lead 2-0 at the beginning of the next set.

But Rubin immediately broke back and then twice more in the fifth and the seventh to lead 5-2 before serving out for victory.


05/24/02 Seles, Rubin to Meet in Madrid Final
MADRID, Spain (AP)--Monica Seles and Chandra Rubin advanced to an all-American final Friday at the $170,000 Madrid Open.

Rubin easily defeated Fabiola Zuluaga 6-4, 6-2, but Seles struggled to a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Paola Suarez to reach Saturday's championship match of the clay court tournament.

Suarez took the first set with a strong service game and with precision returns just inside the lines. But Seles recovered and played well to win the next two sets.

``Without doubt it has been the toughest game of the week, and it was very equal,'' said the top-seeded Seles, who won this event in 1992. ``I had a good serve, however, I won because I played better all the decisive points.''

Seles is looking for her second championship this year after winning in Doha. Rubin had no trouble with Zuluaga, the Madrid Open champion two years ago, showing no ill effects of a recent knee injury. She hasn't won a tournament since 2000.


05/23/02 Seles Eases Past Smashnova to Make Semifinal
MADRID (Reuters) - Top seed Monica Seles eased into the last four of the Spanish Open with a confident 6-3, 6-2 victory over Israel's Anna Smashnova Thursday.

The world number six, who is using the Madrid tournament to prepare for next week's French Open, will face unseeded Paola Suarez of Argentina in the semifinals.

Chanda Rubin of the United States -- who ended Spanish interest in the tournament by defeating Magui Serna 6-3, 6-3 in an earlier match -- will meet Colombia's Fabiola Zuluaga in the other semi.

Three-times French Open champion Seles started well against Smashnova, whom she had beaten in one previous meeting on her way to winning at Amelia Island two years ago.

Using her two-handed drives to pin the Israeli on the baseline, she then unleashed a series of accurate passing shots to take a 3-0 lead in the first set.

Smashnova, who won tournaments in New Zealand and Australia in January, fought back to trail 4-3, but Seles broke again in the eighth game before serving out to love for the first set.

Both players had problems serving in the second set with Seles the only one to hold serve in the first five games to lead 4-1.

The American only ever looked in difficulty when Smashnova managed to coax her off the baseline with the occasional drop shot, and with the rest of the games going with serve she secured her passage into the last four with little difficulty.

Her semifinal opponent Suarez, who lost in the final of the 1999 tournament, enjoyed a straight sets victory over qualifier Clarisa Fernandez in the all-Argentine quarter-final clash.

The 25-year-old, who knocked out fourth seed Patty Schnyder in the first round, took the first set 6-4 and edged the second 7-5.

Rubin, who knocked out last year's winner and number two seed Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the second round, disappointed the home crowd once again as she went on to brush aside Canary Islander Serna.

PERFECT START

The 26-year-old American got off to a perfect start when she broke Serna's serve in the opening game and then used her powerful forehand to good effect to break again in the seventh to lead 5-2.

Serna pulled back a break to trail 5-3 but her serve let her down in the ninth game and a double fault gifted the set to her opponent.

Rubin then made good use of some well-timed backhand passes to break twice in the second set and lead 5-3 before serving out for the match.

Zuluaga, the lowest ranked of the quarter-finalists, came from a set down to earn a place in the last four when she overcame Emilie Loit of France 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.

The 23-year-old -- who won her home tournament in Bogota in February -- recovered from her poor start to race through the second set to love and then came from a break down to snatch victory from a disappointed Loit in the evenly-balanced final set.


05/22/02 Seles advances, Sanchez-Vicario ousted at Madrid Open
MADRID (TICKER) -- Top seed Monica Seles of the United States moved on, but two more seeds fell Wednesday in the second round of the $170,000 Madrid Open claycourt tennis tournament.

Seles, who had a bye in the first round, moved into the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Spain's Marta Marrero. American Chanda Rubin had the biggest upset of the day, posting a 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory over Spain's Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Four seeded players lost in the first round on Tuesday.

Fifth seed Anna Smashnova of Israel avoided an upset Wednesday as she defeated Australian Alicia Molik, 7-5. 6-2. But No. 8 Rita Grande of Italy was ousted by Columbian Fabiola Zuluaga, 7-5, 7-5.

Argentina's Paola Suarez eliminated highly touted Russian Dinara Safina, 7-5, 6-1. The 16-year-old Safina, a qualifier and the younger sister of ATP star Marat Safin, reached the semifinals at Estoril last month.

Emilie Loit of France defeated Zimbabwe's Cara Black, 6-4, 6-4 and qualifier Clarisa Fernandez of Argentina followed up a win over sixth seed Ai Sugiyama of Japan with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 victory over Spain's Marissa Irvin.

Spaniard Magui Serna, who eliminated sixth-seeded Croatian Iva Majoli in the first round, dispatched Australian Nicole Pratt, 6-2, 6-2.

First prize at this event, which serves as a final warmup for next week's French Open, is $27,000.


05/17/02 Monica Seles will participate in the Open de España Madrid

The North American tennis player Mónica Seles, number 5 in the present ranking of the WTA, has confirmed her participation in the Open de España Madrid 2012 III Trofeo Volkswagen. Therefore, Seles becomes number 1 in the tournament followed by Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario and Patty Schnyder. During this year Monica Seles has reached the semifinales in four WTA tournaments: the Australian Open, where she lost to Martina Hingis; Dubai, eliminated by Mauresmo; Indian Wells, loosing again against Hingis and Miami; where she was defeated by the number 2 of the world ranking, Jennifer Capriati. The tennis player born in Croatia already won the Open de España in 1992. The Spanish tenis will be represented in this international tournament by Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, Magüi Serna, Marta Marrero, Vivi Ruano, Gala León, Angeles Montolio and Cristina Torrens-Valero.

The final phase is completed with the presence of Patty Schnyder (20th in the WTA ranking), Iva Majoli (31), Katarina Srebotnik (49) and the Northamerican Chanda Rubin, number 64. The classifying phase will be disputed the 18th, 19th and 20th of May, and the development of the main phase will take place from May 21st to May 25th, date of the end of the tournament.


05/10/02 Seles, Hingis, and Coetzer withdraw from next week's Italian Open

ROME (AP) -- Martina Hingis, Monica Seles and Amanda Coetzer will not play in the Italian Open.

Hingis, ranked No. 4, withdrew from next week's tournament because of a left foot injury that also forced her to miss the German Open.

Seles, ranked sixth, will miss the tournament because of a stomach virus, and Coetzer, who lost in the first round of the German Open, said a muscle problem would keep her out of the tournament.

Emmanuelle Gagliardi of Switzerland, Gala Leon Garcia of Spain and Janette Husarova of Slovakia moved into the draw.


04/30/02 Another Failure To Deliver
By HARVEY ARATON

The makeshift court created for Monica Seles and Alexandra Stevenson to play a few promotional points yesterday inside Grand Central Terminal looked like the tennis version of a steel cage: netting all around and even overhead, about 11 feet high, to protect the venerable chandeliers of Vanderbilt Hall.

No lobs in this cramped, ornate setting, more conducive to a Hingis-Williams taunt-fest than to Seles and Stevenson playfully trading from the service line while kicking off an educational campaign for the American Stroke Association, sponsored by Bayer.

After the week she just experienced, the ever-introspective Seles had to admit, "I need some Bayer aspirin myself."

There was no cage in Charlotte, N.C., but Jennifer Capriati and Billie Jean King wrestled over Fed Cup team rules to a decision that was destructive to Capriati's rebuilt reputation and King's competitive cause. King tossed Capriati from the team Friday night after naming her to play Saturday's singles, forfeiting one match of a competition the United States wound up losing to Austria, 3-2.

Caught in the middle of this untidy struggle between the mother of the modern women's game and the daughter of an overbearing tennis father was Seles, who left no doubt whom she was siding with and why.

"It went on all week," she said of Capriati's challenging King's policies, including the ban on practice independent of the team. "We were all told the rules and had a chance to leave. Once you stay, whatever the captain says, you have to respect that."

Seles added: "God, it's Billie Jean King. She's responsible for everything we have. If you don't have respect for her, I don't know who you'll have respect for."

Into the second year of her inspirational re-emergence as a groundstroking, Grand Slam-winning force, Capriati has come a long way after her derailment from the teenage star track. Running contrary to the notion of full-blown maturity, however, is the fact that her father, Stefano, has come with her every step of the way.

"Billie Jean means well; Jennifer means well; Stefano means well," said the agent Anthony Godsick, husband of the longtime WTA Tour player Mary Joe Fernandez. As usual, everyone meant well, and women's tennis wound up with another embarrassment to explain.

"This hurt women's tennis," Seles said. "People wonder, `What is going on?' "

The women get most of the attention and create the sport's juiciest headlines but too often do not deliver. Always an event, Williams versus Williams is never an epic. Martina Hingis can't win the big tournament anymore. Anna Kournikova can't win any. Heralded showdowns turn into blowouts, if they are played at all. Last October, post-9/11, the United States Fed Cup team pulled out of the finals in Madrid. In Charlotte, the Fed Cup organizers sold out the Olde Providence Racquet Club, the fans expecting Capriati but witnessing a walkover for Austria's Evelyn Fauth.

Capriati isn't Darryl Strawberry, on his way to jail now. She didn't break any laws. From all indications, she did push King to the breaking point. King had to do something, but she overreacted, or reacted too soon. Once committed to Capriati, King owed it to the fans and her team to hold her serve-and-volley aggression, to wait another day. She should have yanked Capriati after Saturday and told her to not come back until she grows up.

"I want this team to be together, like in football, basketball, any other sport," King said. Except Fed Cup is not King's beloved World Team Tennis. It is an occasional gathering of inflated egos that are emotionally tethered to familiarity, which usually means daddy or mommy, as demonstrated yesterday by Stevenson, accompanied to Grand Central by her mother, Samantha.

Capriati and family obviously won't be playing anymore for Captain King, who hopes to have Venus or Serena Williams for the July qualifier the United States is now relegated to. Venus has indicated she may play. Serena told King to check back. Lesser players like Lisa Raymond are always happy to play, and then there is Seles, still blaming herself yesterday for being upset Saturday by Barbara Schwartz.

Seles is not the player she was before an act of sports terrorism was committed against her, yet she still manages to come off as more of a champion than ever. She got into New York from Charlotte at 2:30 yesterday morning and was at Grand Central on two hours' sleep. "A commitment is a commitment," she said. "You've got to see it all the way through."

Or at least through the match for which no replacement is allowed.


04/29/02 Capriati Vs. King: Double-Fault

Two willful women, Billie Jean King and Jennifer Capriati, dug in and the losers were tennis fans and the U.S. Fed Cup team.

It was an utterly unnecessary squabble, King drawing a line in the green clay in Charlotte, N.C., on the principle of team play, Capriati petulantly standing firm on her desire to practice on her own with her daddy on the court.

Tempers flared and heated words were exchanged. King, the captain, won the argument and lost the match.

King tossed the No. 2-ranked Capriati off the team, yielding the first point in the best-of-five weekend competition to Austria's Evelyn Fauth on a walkover. When No. 75 Barbara Schwartz then upset Monica Seles and came back Sunday to beat Meghann Shaughnessy, Capriati's replacement, the Americans were eliminated.

U.S. women own a record 17 Fed Cup titles. This time, they lost in embarrassing fashion in the first round.

The fans came down hard on King, booing her when she was introduced. That's understandable. They paid to watch Capriati play and they felt cheated, which they surely were.

Seles and the other American players rallied around King, saying she was correct to stand up to Capriati.

"I just feel the right decision was made," Seles said. "We're all here as a team."

Who's at fault here? Call it a double-fault.

King should have yielded a bit on rules she set up a couple of years ago to stress the team concept of Fed Cup play. Weary of going through red tape and buffers to get to a player, King laid down her edict: For the few weekends a year that the team is together, coaches and agents are not welcome at practices and meetings.

"This is a week of team, OK," King said over the weekend, clearly agitated. "If it wasn't, it would be Monica and myself on this court, Stefano and Jennifer on this court. ... Then we can just not have a team, it's very simple.

"The team has to be together. This is the way to do it. It's for this week, it's not every week. When we're together, this is the deal."

That's a sensible policy, but King could have been more flexible and not so quick to boot Capriati for trying to violate it. As long as Capriati was already there and prepared to play two singles matches, would it have undermined the team spirit so much if she had practiced with her own hitting partner while her father, Stefano, watched and fetched a few balls? Probably not.

"It is amazing to me that I am being penalized so severely for simply wanting to prepare as best I can for the Federation Cup and my other commitments," Capriati said.

King could have let Capriati play, then told her after the weekend not to come back for the next round if she can't do it alone. Now there won't be a next round, at least until next year.

But don't pin all the blame on Billie Jean. And don't forget that she is the single most important woman in tennis history, perhaps sports history — a woman that every player should thank for promoting the game for more than three decades.

When Billie Jean King spoke, Capriati should have listened and nodded. Not just because King was right, but because of who she is and what she has meant to women's tennis.

Besides all her Grand Slam championships and her celebrated victory over Bobby Riggs in their 1973 Battle of the Sexes, King started the Women's Sports Foundation, helped get Title IX written into law, and tirelessly worked to give female athletes opportunities ever since.

The 26-year-old Capriati doesn't have to know all that history to be aware that King is someone she should respect.

King has long been an advocate of team play in tennis, beginning with World Team Tennis, a concept that has endured, albeit with only marginal success, since King helped start it in the 1970s. It's a tough sell to the players and the fans.

Doubles notwithstanding, pro tennis players are decidedly individualistic and far less sociable than their country club cousins on the golf course. Tennis players don't grow up in foursomes and they don't jump at team endeavors like WTT or Davis Cup or Fed Cup with nearly the same passion as golfers do with Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup.

Yet when tennis players do commit to the team format and play for their country, they invariably say they enjoy the experience. It's intense and fun and it gives them a chance to get to know players they otherwise rarely speak to on the tour.

That's the experience Capriati missed. Her comeback over the past two years after her troubled teens is a wonderful story, and she deserves all the credit for her perseverance. But she made a mistake in challenging King.

Capriati let down her teammates, denied herself a chance to have fun and, most of all, cheated the tennis fans who came out to see her play.


04/28/02 Austria Clinch Surprise Fed Cup Win Over U.S.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Barbara Schwartz beat Meghann Shaughnessy 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 9-7 in a three -hour tussle to clinch Austria a surprise victory over the United States in the first round of the Fed Cup on Sunday.

"I still can't believe this. It's unbelievable for us to win here," said Schwartz after her team's 3-2 triumph. "When we came here it was little Austria against the big United States with such great players, and we won."

The U.S. gained some consolation by winning the final two matches of the rubber, Monica Seles defeating Evelyn Fauth 6-3, 6-3 before combining with Lisa Raymond to overcome Fauth and Marion Maruska 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) in the doubles.

After recovering from match point in the second set tiebreak and overcoming a partisan crowd, Schwartz won a baseline battle with Shaughnessy by keeping her composure on the key points.

She clinched the match with a backhand crosscourt winner and ran to hug her team mates in celebration. "In the beginning I was a bit nervous because I was thinking, 'We're up 2-0, we have a chance, C'mon,"' Schwartz said.

"But from that point on, I forgot everything, the crowd, except the points."

The United States began the day 2-0 down after forfeiting one match when captain Billie Jean King dismissed Jennifer Capriati from the team on Friday and 23-year-old Schwartz's 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 victory over Seles on Saturday.

Capriati had violated team practice rules by attempting to hold a private session with her father and coach, Stefano.

Both King and Shaughnessy said it was worth suffering defeat for standing up for team principles.

BOTTOM LINE

"I do," Shaughnessy said. "The bottom line is when we came here, there were a set of rules signed for each player. It was Jennifer's decision not to follow one of them. That's her decision and it's fine.

"But if she's going to make that decision she needs to know there are consequences."

King agreed that principle was more important than victory. "Yes. That's why I did it," she said.

The United States were confident of winning all three matches on Sunday, but left-hander Schwartz was mentally tough, consistently winning the big points and digging herself out of a variety of holes with some well-struck groundstrokes.

Shaughnessy, 23, dominated the first set with her forehand and then broke Schwartz to go 4-3 up in the second.

But the American started to get tentative in the next game and Schwartz broke back with a backhand winner down the line.

Shaughnessy held two more break points at 5-5 but the tall Austrian ripped a forehand down the line and then Shaughnessy pushed a forehand long.

Schwartz hurt a muscle in her thigh in that game and took a medical timeout to get it taped, but she kept battling.

"I couldn't run like I did before but I kept fighting and kept my mind on the game," she said.

Trailing 5-6 in the tiebreak, Schwartz watched the shaky Shaughnessy dump an easy forehand into the net and then won the set by gunning a forehand down the middle.

TOO TENTATIVE

Shaughnessy was frustrated she could not finish off her opponent. "I had opportunities throughout the whole match," she said. "I felt like I played too tentative today. I didn't go for my shots when I needed to and that was the difference."

Both women served well in the third set, with Schwartz mixing up wicked slice with heavy top-spin and Shaughnessy cracking flat serves down the middle.

The 75th-ranked Schwartz broke the 12th-ranked Shaughnessy to go 8-7 ahead in the third when she won a 22-stroke rally.

Serving for the match, she fought off a break point when an exhausted Shaughnessy missed a backhand. The Austrian then cracked a service winner before winning the contest with a running crosscourt backhand.

Shaughnessy, who was making her Fed Cup debut, said: "It's the first time I've felt the pressure of playing for a team and my country.

"It was definitely an added pressure...it's very disappointing. I fought hard but I wasn't feeling the ball well today. I have to give her some credit too."

Considered a sure-fire top 10 prospect in 1999 when she upset Dominique van Roost and Venus Williams to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open, Schwartz has spent much off the past two years nursing a damaged left elbow.

Possessing an excellent first serve, powerful groundstrokes and a good touch around the net, Schwartz believes she can be a top 10 player.

"Yes," she said. "I was a bit unlucky with my injuries but if I'm fit, I believe in my chances. I played really great this weekend."

Austria now meet Croatia in the next round.


04/28/02 U.S. near suprise ouster in Fed Cup

U.S. near suprise ouster in Fed Cup This first-round Fed Cup match between Austria and the United States at the Olde Providence Racquet Club was supposed to be an American blowout.

But after U.S. captain Billie Jean King kicked Jennifer Capriati off the team and Monica Seles was upset Saturday, the Americans are on the verge of elimination.

Austria's Barbara Schwartz gave her team a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 match Saturday by beating Seles 7-6 (9-7), 6-2. Austria began the day with a 1-0 forfeit lead, because Capriati was taken off the U.S. team for a rules violation after the pairings had been announced Friday.


04/27/02 King, Players Blame Capriati for U.S. Debacle

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Reuters) - Captain Billie Jean King and her U.S. players have blamed their 2-0 deficit in the Fed Cup first round match against Austria on Jennifer Capriati's dismissal from the team.

"Jennifer should have approached the rest of the team if she wanted some help with the situation but she didn't," U.S. team member Monica Seles told Reuters Saturday.

"She was the one causing all the disruption during the week. She didn't leave us in a great situation and it was very unfair."

Seles's team mate Lisa Raymond told Reuters: "Jennifer never approached any of us. We certainly hoped the situation was salvageable. We thought everyone was on the same page and obviously we weren't."

The U.S. had to forfeit Capriati's match against Evelyn Fauth before Seles lost 7-6 6-2 to Barbara Schwartz, which means the home team must win all three rubbers Sunday to defeat Austria.

King kicked Capriati off the team Friday after the world number two refused to cancel a private practice session with her father and coach, Stefano.

King said it was the toughest decision she ever had to make. The U.S. captain has known Jennifer and her family since the player was 12, but said there was no other way to deal with the situation.

"There was no way," said King, who added that she had problems with Jennifer wanting to impose her independence and Stefano trying to assert his will.

"It was a combination of both," King said. "But the fact is that I stated the rules Monday and they weren't adhered to. It was more than once, it was a lot more than once. It wasn't fair to the team."

RAYMOND SURPRISE

Raymond said the Capriati situation had disrupted the team all week. "It was constant, something every day, either Stefano was there every day or there was the notion that she wanted him to be there," Raymond said.

"I am surprised at her. It's something we didn't expect to be an issue. Sometimes you just have to stand up for principles. If that means taking a loss or going down 2-0, then so be it."

In a statement released through her agent, Linda Dozoretz, Friday, Capriati said that the rules were unfair.

"On my own time, following Friday morning's practice session, I decided that I wanted additional practice in advance of Saturday's match.

"In response to the team captain, I informed her that I had booked my own practice session with a hitting partner and my coach.

"I was informed that this was against the team rules, and that if I continued with this practice, I would be dismissed from the team. I strongly protested this directive, and consequently was dismissed from the team before this practice even took place."

Capriati added: "I never did practice and do not believe I did anything to hurt the team. I obeyed the rules as I understood them, and fulfilled the obligations I had to the team.

"It is amazing to me that I am being penalized so severely for simply wanting to prepare as best I can for the Federation Cup and my other commitments.

SERIOUS PREPARATION

"It never occurred to me that little-known policies that conflicted with my serious preparation for upcoming tour events would result in this ending."

King disputed Capriati's account, saying that she went up to her in the afternoon and asked Jennifer if she needed additional practice.

"We'll do whatever it takes for a player," King said. "I always ask the player and will oblige them...Jennifer was definitely going to practice with her father and a high school player here on a back court."

Seles backed King, saying: "I felt the right decision was made. I have my coach here and understood the rules. The rules were explained to me and I obliged.

"We're all here as a team and we need to focus on our tennis, not the distractions from off the court. It was just becoming too much."

Raymond said: "I have a coach I would love to have here and Monica has her coach, Mike Sell, who she told that he couldn't come to the courts and that we were having closed practices.

"It was pretty cut and dry and Jennifer should have respected the policy more. A rule is a rule and as a team we should have abided by it."

Meghann Shaughnessy, who will replace Capriati in Sunday's opening singles match, said: "We have team rules and Jennifer decided not to follow one of them. That's the bottom line."

Shaughnessy will be making her Fed Cup debut in her match against Schwartz. In Sunday's other rubbers, Seles meets Fauth and Shaughnessy and Raymond team up to take on Schwartz and Marion Maruska in the doubles.

King admitted changing the rules this year because she wanted the players and the Fed Cup coaches to have private time to themselves in order to build team unity.

"This team has to be together,' she said. "When we're together, this is the deal."


04/27/02 Capriati Kicked Off U.S. Fed Cup Team

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - World number two Jennifer Capriati was kicked off the U.S. Fed Cup team late Friday after she refused to cancel a private practice session with her father and coach, Stefano.

U.S. captain Billie Jean King announced that her number one singles player would not be involved when the team began their first round tie against Austria Saturday.

"The Fed Cup competition is comprised of team play, and our team's rules apply to all players to ensure a team concept," said King.

"We are disappointed that Jennifer did not agree to comply with our closed, team-only practice policy, and as a result was excused from the team."

Closed practices are not unusual in team competition, U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe enforces a similar policy to exclude private coaches.

Capriati, the winner of three Grand Slam titles, was scheduled to play Evelyn Fauth Saturday.

But, as a result of her removal from the team, the U.S. will forfeit Saturday's second match in the best-of-five series. Monica Seles will face Barbara Schwartz in the first game.

In a statement released through her agent, Linda Dozoretz, Capriati denied the U.S. charges and said the rules were unfair.

"I am extremely upset about being dismissed from the Federation Cup team," Capriati said.

"I was looking forward to representing my country in this prestigious international competition. I am so disappointed by the actions the USTA has taken regarding my status on the Fed Cup team.

"This morning I fulfilled all of my public relations and promotional obligations to the team, and I followed that by attending the team practice.

"On my own time, following this morning's practice session, I decided that I wanted additional practice in advance of tomorrow's match," said Capriati.

"Looking beyond this weekend's Fed Cup matches, I am also preparing for some very important tournaments, including the defense of my title at the French Open.

TEAM RULES

"In response to the team captain, I informed her that I had booked my own practice session with a hitting partner and my coach. I was informed that this was against the team rules, and that if I continued with this practice, I would be dismissed from the team.

"I strongly protested this directive, and consequently was dismissed from the team before this practice even took place. I never did practice and do not believe I did anything to hurt the team," said Capriati.

"I obeyed the rules as I understood them, and fulfilled the obligations I had to the team. It is amazing to me that I am being penalized so severely for simply wanting to prepare as best I can for the Federation Cup and my other commitments.

"It never occurred to me that little-known policies that conflicted with my serious preparation for upcoming tour events would result in this ending.

"I feel a responsibility to my career, to my sponsors and to my fans. This is detrimental to all of those."

Fed Cup sources told Reuters that King and the Capriatis were in a heated argument outside the practice courts earlier this week over the same issue, and that the controversy had been simmering. But the world number two said she had been a good soldier.

"I arrived in Charlotte Monday to begin the practice sessions with the team. That's when I was first informed of the team rules concerning outside practice," said Capriati, who also played on the 2000 Cup-winning team.

"None of this information had been given to me prior to my arrival in Charlotte. Still, despite this turn of events, I chose to stay with the team and abide by the rules, as outlined by the captain at that time.

"These rules included the fact that all practice sessions were closed, and that not all team practices were mandatory. I obeyed these rules as a team member."

An agitated Jennifer and Stefano left their hotel for the airport in Charlotte at around 2030.

Stefano has always been a controversial figure around the tennis tour. Many believe it was his sometimes overbearing and intense coaching of his teenage daughter that led to Jennifer's burn-out and her brief exit from the tour during the mid-1990s.

Capriati is expected to be replaced in the singles lineup by Meghann Shaughnessy.


04/26/02 Americans Eager to Reclaim Fed Cup

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - U.S. women return to Fed Cup competition Saturday, eager to earn their 18th title after withdrawing from the event last year in the wake of Sept. 11.

The U.S. team did not attempt to win its third straight title last October, citing security concerns for opting not to travel to Madrid for the finals following the terrorist attacks.

But with the opening round on American soil for the women's version of Davis Cup tennis — the United States plays Austria beginning Saturday at the Olde Providence Racquet Club — the U.S. women are anxious to get the trophy back.

"It was unfortunate circumstances last year, but I think we made the right decision not to do," said Lisa Raymond, who will team with Meghann Shaughnessy in doubles on Sunday.

"As a team, we're all hungry to get the cup back and hopefully win another title."

The U.S. has played in every Fed Cup since 1963, winning it a record 17 times with eight runner-up finishes. Belgium won last year when the Americans pulled out.

The United States is the top seed in the event and heavily favored to beat Austria. The winner plays the Czech Republic or Croatia in a second-round match July 20-21, and U.S. captain Billie Jean King said the women will be there.

"We were upset we didn't go last year," King said. "We are not a no-show kind of people. We show up, we play and we play hard. When we win, we will have to go in July and we will be there.

"There has been no discussion whatsoever of not going and getting the cup and bringing it back to the United States of America."

Play begins Saturday with Monica Seles, the No. 2 player on the U.S. team, facing Austria's top player, Barbara Schwartz. Jennifer Capriati, the No. 2 player in the world, plays Evelyn Fauth, ranked No. 139 in the world, in the second match.

On Sunday, Capriati plays Schwartz, Seles plays Fauth, and Raymond and Shaughnessy team to play Schwartz and Marion Maruska.

Austria will be without Barbara Schett, its top player, who opted not to play in the Fed Cup to concentrate on getting ready for next month's French Open.

She's been criticized for the decision because the Fed Cup matches in Charlotte will be played on clay and would have been a good French Open tuneup for Schett, who would have faced both Capriati and Seles.

"She said she had to play next week in Hamburg," Austria captain Alfred Tesar said. "I'm not happy about this."

King did not comment directly on Schett's absence, but said it was important for the top players to represent their countries each year.

"It is so important for our sport and for our country that the top players play because people want to see the best," King said. "Some players in other countries don't want to participate. They've held up their federations for tremendous amounts of money to play, ridiculous amounts.

"They don't understand that this is about hopefully having fun with teammates and playing for your country and relationships. Maybe later in life they'll understand that winning matches is not the most important thing."


04/20/02 Courting A Cause: Seles And Stevenson To Play Charity Exhibition in Grand Central

Rush hour will come to court at Grand Central Terminal. As harried commuters rush to catch their trains later this month, Monica Seles and Alexandra Stevenson will be rushing the net during an exhibition match to be staged in Grand Central Terminal on April 29th to raise money for the American Stroke Challenge.

The Challenge is an eight-year program provided by the American Stroke Association. The match between Seles and Stevenson launches the Challenge, which promotes the screening of people for strokes. For the first seven years of its existence, the program used pro golfers to promote its cause, but the campaign has now moved to the court in an effort to reach more women on the importance of screening for strokes.

"With the tennis demographic, it skews more toward women and women are definitely one of the key audiences for stroke," American Stroke Challenge communications manager Corliss Hill told Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal.

The issue has touched Stevenson personally. Her grandfather died of a stroke. The daughter of former NBA all-star Julius Erving and sportswriter Samantha Stevenson, Alexandra is the first non-caucasion athlete to serve as spokesperson for the American Stroke Association.

Every weekday, an estimated 500,000 people pass through Grand Central Terminal, which houses its own tennis court and annually hosts a squad tournament as well as a USTA-sponsored tennis exhibition prior to the start of the U.S. Open.


04/18/02 Seles Ousted at Family Circle Cup

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Monica Seles was upset by qualifier Stephanie Foretz 6-4, 7-6 (6) Thursday in the Family Circle Cup, where play was disrupted by a fire on a nearby bridge.

A truck carrying gas cylinders caught fire after hitting a police car on an interstate bridge near the Tennis Club at Daniel Island. Some broken glass fell from the 100-foot-high bridge onto a storage tent for soft drinks and water, but there were no injuries at the tournament site.

The fire was put out, and play resumed after about 35 minutes.

Jennifer Capriati, the defending champion and top seed, also advanced to the quarterfinals, beating Alexandra Fusai 6-3, 7-5. Capriati will faces Anastasia Myskina in the quarterfinals.

Foretz, a Frenchwoman ranked No. 109, reached her first top-level WTA Tour tournament quarterfinal. She'll play seventh-seeded Sandrine Testud , who beat Jill Craybas 6-3, 6-2.

Seles led 6-5 in the second set, but Foretz forced the tiebreaker by holding serve, ending the game with an ace. Foretz then led 5-2 in the tiebreaker, allowed Seles to reach 6-all, then won the match's last two points.

"I was very calm," Foretz said. "I don't think of the score and I just think what I can do."

Seles dropped out of a doubles match Wednesday with a stomach virus but said she never considered pulling out of the singles.

"I felt better today than I did yesterday, obviously not 100 percent, but I went out and did the best I could," Seles said. "She just played too good on key points. Whenever I had chances, she closed the door on them, and I didn't really take control of the match."

Play was suspended because of the bridge accident just a few minutes after Foretz completed her victory.

Seles was taking a shower in the clubhouse at the time.

"Someone just came in and yelled 'Get out! Get out!' Obviously it took me a little while to get out, but I got out. But definitely a scary sight," Seles said.

Amanda Coetzer, seeded 13th, needed 2 hours, 37 minutes to get past Paola Suarez 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Coetzer next plays Iva Majoli, who eliminated Anna Smashnova 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

"It's very, very difficult to be out there for that long focusing mentally," Coetzer said.

Myskina defeated beat Fernandez 3-6, 6-4,6-4.

Patty Schnyder edged Mary Pierce 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to advance to a quarterfinal match against Serena Williams.


04/16/02 Seles, Serena Win, Kournikova Out at Charleston

CHARLESTON (Reuters) - Second seed Monica Seles struggled to victory in her opening match at the Family Circle Cup on Tuesday, as third seed Serena Williams barely broke into a sweat to advance in straight sets. Seles spent one hour 46 minutes battling fellow American Amy Frazier before closing out the second round match by a 4-6 6-3 6-0 margin.

"I was a little bit hesitant in the beginning and couldn't find my form," said Seles, who trailed 5-0 in the first set before picking up her game.

"But I hung in there and I turned things around."

By contrast, Williams never offered American Jennifer Hopkins an opportunity to turn anything around in her 6-0 6-2 victory that took just 40 minutes to complete.

"I'm satisfied," Williams said. "I played pretty well out there. It seems like I hit a lot of winners and normally you don't do that on clay."

Williams was nearly flawless in the first set, dominating Hopkins to the point she only lost six of 30 points played.

In the second set, Williams went ahead 3-0 before Hopkins held serve in the fourth and sixth games.

Top-seeded Jennifer Capriati begins the defense of her Charleston title against Slovakia's Janette Husarova on Wednesday.

KOURNIKOVA LOSES

Anna Kournikova tried to prevent Conchita Martinez from posting a 30th birthday victory, but wilted after a tight first set to give the Spaniard a 7-6 6-1 present.

Despite the loss, the Russian player was happy with her performance and believes she is making progress after sitting out most of last year with a stress fracture to her left foot.

"Today was the best match that I played in the last four tournaments and especially against Conchita," Kournikova said.

"She's an experienced player on clay. So I'm definitely happy with the progress I've made."

Neither player seemed capable of holding serve in the first set as both Kournikova and Martinez swapped breaks for five straight games.

Kournikova started the tiebreak on the wrong foot by double faulting on the first point.

Although the Russian competed in most of the rallies, it was clear that the Spaniard was going to be the tougher competitor.

After Kournikova flung a backhand long to lose the last point of the first set, the match was always heading in Martinez's direction.

"It was very important to win that first set," Martinez said. "I felt we were not playing our best tennis and after I won the opener she seemed to fall away."


03/28/02 Capriati Grinds Down Seles to Reach Miami Final

MIAMI (Reuters) - World number one and top seed Jennifer Capriati survived a punishing baseline battle with Monica Seles Thursday to claim a thrilling 4-6 6-3 7-6 win and a place in the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open Masters against Serena Williams.

Earlier Williams claimed a rare win over big sister Venus booking her spot in the final with a ruthless 6-2 6-2 victory over the Wimbledon champion.

The final will mark the second time in as many tournaments that Williams will play Capriati for a title having beaten the Australian Open champion in Scottsdale three weeks ago.

As she has done in much of the tournament, Capriati struggled early on to find her rhythm as fifth seed Seles, who became the youngest ever Miami Masters champion when she lifted the title as a 16-year-old in 1990, looked poised to make a return to the final after winning the first set.

But Capriati, playing in front of her hometown crowd, stormed back to take the second.

With the match approaching midnight, the two players appeared prepared to slug it out until dawn, matching shot for punishing shot from the baseline.

With neither Seles nor Capriati able to find the break, the third set went to a tiebreak, which the world number one took 7-4.

THRILLER

"It was a thriller for us and the crowd, we gave it all we got and some of our best tennis came out," said Capriati. "We were point-for-point and it all came down to just a matter of a couple of points.

"I go for it and it seems to work my way.

"It was really tough that there had to be a loser tonight."

It will be the second consecutive time Capriati has appeared in the final here. Last year she squandered eight match points before falling to Venus Williams.

Capriati contests Saturday's final holding a slight 4-3 edge in head-to-head meetings with eighth-seeded Serena, but has lost the last two.

The semifinal between Serena and Venus marked the eighth time the sport's most famous siblings had met as professionals but only the second that Serena had walked away the winner.

Her victory also brought an end to a remarkable run of success on the Miami hard courts by defending champion Venus, who had been unbeaten at this event since a second round loss to Martina Hingis in 1997.

Venus came into the contest riding a 24 match win streak that included consecutive titles in 1998, 1999 and last year. She did not compete here in 2000 due to injury.

Serena's victory also marked only the fifth time since 1971 and 28 head-to-head meetings between sisters that the younger sibling has come away the winner.

SHOCKED

"I was a little bit shocked by the scoreline, admitted Serena, "It's been next to impossible to beat Venus at this tournament.

"Venus likes to make a lot of comebacks. I knew she wasn't going to give it to me, I was going to have to win it."

Clashing for the first time since last year's U.S. Open final, Venus and Serena entered a sun-baked center court with the song, "We are Family" blaring around a half-full stadium.

But family feelings were quickly forgotten as Serena went to work, breaking Venus to open the match and then holding serve to surge in front 2-0.

With Venus uncharacteristically tentative and her ground strokes unsure, Serena continued her aggressive assault and was rewarded with another break to increase her advantage to 5-2.

Venus looked to regroup in the second by holding her opening serve but would not do so again, Serena powering her way through the next four games to assume absolute control.

When Venus's forehand return sailed long to end the contest the sisters moved to the net but there would be no warm embrace such as the one seen at the conclusion of last year's U.S. Open.


03/26/02 Seles won't play Sarasota Open

Monica Seles leaned against the wall outside the women's locker room, her body sore and cramping. Her mind was just as worn. "Tonight was a classic example of where I am at, not just physically but mentally a little bit," Seles said after struggling to beat Conchita Martinez in three sets.

Where Seles is at these days is in a no-win situation.

She needs a break from tennis and the only time on her schedule to do so is the week the Women's Tennis Association stops in Sarasota.

A professional tennis tournament will be played at The Meadows Country Club April 1-7. Thirty-two professional players will be competing in the single draw. Mary Pierce will be there. Jelena Dokic will be there. Meghann Shaughnessy will be there. Heck, even Martinez will be there.

Monica Seles won't be there. Although she lives in Sarasota, even used to practice at The Meadows, Seles is skipping the Sarasota event.

There are plenty of reasons -- all of them legitimate -- why Seles won't play this year in the Sarasota tournament. But there are only two things many people in Sarasota can see. There is a women's professional tennis tournament in Sarasota. And Seles owes it to a community that has both embraced her and respected her privacy.

In a perfect world Seles would play Sarasota ... and win it. But this is tennis and the only thing Seles, now 28, owes is to give herself the best chance of making the most of the time she has left on the tour.

That means there are bigger, more important tournaments to play than a small, first-year, Tier IV event ... even if it is being played in her back yard.

Seles said she would love to play in Sarasota, and that even some of her friends in the area don't understand why she isn't this year.

For one thing, there are implications for top players when they play down in a small event. But, for Seles, it primarily came down to her schedule, one that has been non-stop since the beginning of the year.

"Truthfully, I need a break," Seles said. "I think I made a mistake with my schedule this year. I just don't want to get to the point where I am tired of the game because of playing too much."

Seles has had precious little time off since the beginning of the year when she went to Australia. From there she went to Asia then Paris, then Qatar, then Dubai, then California and, now, Miami. She has gotten to either the semifinals or finals of each tournament, meaning she has had to play all week.

"I have only had one day away from tennis," she explained.

Seles is also committed to playing at Amelia Island the week after the Sarasota event, followed by Charleston, S.C., and Fed Cup in Charlotte, N.C., the last week of April.

The schedule has worn on Seles and that is dangerous for a player who has had a number of injuries in recent years. And, in fairness, the Sarasota tournament was not added to the WTA schedule until after Seles had made her 2002 schedule.

It would be simple to say Seles could adjust her schedule. But that is not easy for a top player and many of the events she plays in are tournaments that she has supported, and ones that have supported her, throughout the years.

Sarasota Open tournament promoter Rob Coseo knows that his tournament would have been an immediate success had Seles entered. But he also knows he has a strong field for a first-year event and hopes Seles could climb on board in the future.

"Monica has played a very challenging busy schedule, especially on hard courts," Coseo admits. "We came on the books in August, at a time she had already made her schedule. I think we didn't get on her radar until late and I'm sure she is in an awkward position because of that.

"It makes sense for her to take a week off. The bigger picture for us is that she knows the Sarasota tournament is here to stay and it will hopefully be on her schedule in 2003 now that she knows."

"I would love to play and I hope it is going to stay where at some stage I can play it," Seles said. "That would be nice." Nice for Sarasota as well.

Seles said she was surprised just how strong a field the Sarasota event is, saying, "Last year I played a Tier II event in Brazil and this is stronger than that one." She also hopes to attend the tournament and support it.

"Definitely, if I am in town I and going to come out and watch and support, for sure," she said.

But if Seles gets to the final here, she may try to find some place far away from tennis to recharge her batteries and get ready to the next part of a grueling schedule


03/25/02 Players Thrilled by WTA Championships Return to U.S.

MIAMI (Reuters) - World No. 1 Jennifer Capriati led the players' thrilled reaction to the news that the season-ending WTA Championships was returning to the United States after an unsuccessful one-year foray into Europe.

The WTA voted Friday to relocate the prestigious championships to Los Angeles after one year in Munich, and during the weekend announced the Staples Center -- home of the Los Angeles Lakers -- would be the new venue.

"I think this is great news," Capriati said. "I'm psyched that the Tour Championships are coming back to America. Los Angeles is an awesome city and the Staples Center is an excellent place for us to play."

Serena Williams, winner of the ill-fated Munich event last year, echoed Capriati's thoughts.

"I think it is great for women's tennis," the world No. 9 said.

"Los Angeles is a great city for tennis. I'm super-excited and can't wait to play there."

Last year's championships were hurt by the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington and the absence of several star players through injury, including Venus Williams and Martina Hingis.

Monica Seles also refused to take part in the event, standing by her vow to never again play in Germany after being stabbed in the back during a changeover at a tournament in Hamburg by a deranged fan of Steffi Graf.

Adding to an anti-climatic finish to the season, Serena Williams won the title with a walkover after Lindsay Davenport pulled out of the final with an injury.


03/23/02 WTA to Move Championships Back to U.S

MIAMI (Reuters) - After one year in Munich the WTA's season-ending championships will return to the United States after the sport's governing body voted on Friday to move the event to Los Angeles.

The WTA is expected to announce at a press conference on Saturday that this year's event will be staged at the Staples Centre, home of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, following an unsuccessful foray into Europe.

The vote, held at a Miami hotel, required a majority of the 10 member board.

"I can't tell you the dates but it the championships will be held in Los Angeles and most likely the Staples Centre," said WTA communications director Jim Fuhse.

The switch to Munich from New York's Madison Square Gardens, which had been home to the championships since they began in 1972, was a dismal failure the showcase event attracting little interest and disappointing attendance.

The Championships were hurt by the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington and the absence of several star players to injury, including Venus Williams and Martina Hingis.

Monica Seles also refused to take part in the event, standing by her vow to never again play in Germany after being stabbed in the back during a changeover at a tournament in Hamburg by a deranged fan of Steffi Graf.

Adding to an anti-climatic finish to the season, Serena Williams won the title with a walkover after Lindsay Davenport pulled out with an injury.

The Championships had been rumored heading back to U.S. for sometime with the WTA looking capitalize on the sport's popularity in the United States.

Most of the current crop of top women's players, Venus and Serena Williams, Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati, Davenport and Monica Seles are American while many others such as Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova live or have homes in the United States.


03/22/02 Women's tour board votes Friday on moving year-end tournament

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) -- The WTA Tour board will vote Friday on whether to move its year-end championship from Munich to Los Angeles.

The 16-player, $3 million event is scheduled for Oct. 28-Nov. 3 in Munich. It was moved to Germany last year after being played at Madison Square Garden in New York since 1972.

The tour's 10-member board includes representatives of the players and tournaments. The proposal to move the event requires majority approval and the vote is expected to be close.

Octagon is the rights holder to the event. The sports management and marketing company, which represents many top players, helped arrange the move to Munich and has proposed the move to Los Angeles.


03/21/02 U.S. Fed Cup fields strong team led by Capriati, Seles

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- Jennifer Capriati, the No. 1 player in the world, and Monica Seles, winner of nine Grand Slam events, will play on the U.S. Fed Cup team that opens play against Austria next month.

Joining them are Lisa Raymond, the world's top-ranked doubles player, and Meghann Shaughnessy, making her Fed Cup debut.

The U.S. team plays Austria in the best-of-5 opening round series on April 27-28 in Charlotte, N.C. Two singles matches will be played on the first day; two singles and a doubles match are set for the second day.

The winner plays the Czech Republic or Croatia in a second round match July 20-21.

``I couldn't be more pleased with our Fed Cup team for the start of the 2002 campaign,'' team captain Billie Jean King said Thursday. ``Not only do we have the top players in singles and doubles in Jennifer and Lisa, but we also have a loyal veteran and formidable Fed Cup player in Monica and a rising star in Meghann.''

Capriati has played on four Fed Cup teams, helping the U.S. win in 2000. The 1992 Olympic gold medal winner, Capriati's resurgence to the top ranking has seen her win three of the last five Grand Slam titles.

Seles has been playing Fed Cup since 1996, and was a member of winning teams in 1996, 1999 and 2000. Ranked No. 6 in the world, Seles' most recent title -- the 52nd of her career -- was last month in Doha, Qatar.

Raymond has been ranked No. 1 in doubles for nearly eight months. This year, she has won four doubles titles and one singles title. Raymond played Fed Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2000.

Shaughnessy is ranked No. 13 in singles, and No. 24 in doubles.

The United States has won a record 17 Fed Cup titles since the event began in 1963. The team withdrew from last year's competition in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


03/13/02 Hingis again has Seles' number

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) -- Martina Hingis still has Monica Seles' number, and it's 15-4.

Hingis, anticipating many of Seles' shot placements, defeated her for the 15th time in 19 matches with a 6-3, 6-2 victory in Thursday's Pacific Open Life semifinals.

``I was always kind of able to read her game,'' said Hingis, who often during the match scurried to spots where Seles wound up hitting the ball.

``I already had beaten her twice this year. She's always a tough one and I was ready,'' Hingis said. ``I had a lot of confidence going into the match because I knew I was playing well throughout the whole tournament.''

Seles, the 1992 Indian Wells champion, felt out of synch in her match against Hingis.

``I couldn't find my rhythm; that was really it,'' said Seles, at 28 seven years older than Hingis. ``I made error after error and Martina just played too good. I guess she made me hit those errors.

``When I got down, she's too good. I was not really living up to my game that I need to play if I want to have success against her.''

Seles beat Hingis in both their meetings last year, but Hingis is 3-0 against her in 2002.

Hingis, the 1998 tournament champion, meets Daniela Hantuchova in Saturday's final. Hantuchova, 18, from Slovakia, beat Emmanuelle Gagliardi 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Hingis defeated Lindsay Davenport in the Indian Wells final four years ago.


03/13/02 Seles Sweeps Into Semifinals
INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - A desert storm halted play at the Indian Wells Masters Wednesday but could not stop fourth seed Monica Seles from sweeping into the semifinals with 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over Spain's Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.

While a raging sandstorm stopped play on all outside courts, Seles and the ninth seeded Sanchez-Vicario battled on in the sheltered main stadium.

It was the 23rd career meeting between the two three-time French Open champions, Seles hanging on to collect her 20th win.

Seles will now await the winner of second seeded Swiss Martina Hingis and 10th seed Amanda Coetzer of South Africa.


03/12/02 King Hoping for Formidable U.S. Fed Cup Line-Up
LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King hopes to assemble a formidable line-up including Jennifer Capriati, the Williams sisters and Monica Seles when America launches its assault on the team trophy next month.

The United States will take on Austria in its first round match at the Olde Providence Racket Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 27 and 28.

If King gets her way, the U.S. squad could boast four of the top 10 players in the world -- including Nos. 1 and 2 in Venus Williams and Capriati.

It will be the first Fed Cup tie for the United States since pulling out of last year's final in Madrid due to security fears following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Nobody was more disappointed than King at the U.S. decision to stay away and she is determined to bring the trophy back to America this year.

"I think we were very upset we didn't go. It was very sad. The U.S. has played in every Fed Cup since 1963," King said in a teleconference.

"We don't like to not... we are not a no show kind of people. We show up. We play. We win.

"At this time we plan to bring back the Cup to the United States of America. And Charlotte is our first stop."

WHATEVER IT TAKES

King's task will be made much easier if all the players she hopes to roll out make themselves available for the team competition.

"I am talking to all the players right now, the players' agents, the parents, whatever it takes to communicate with the players and to find out if they are available," she said.

"I have asked them to tell me in the next week and a half or so, so we should be able to tell you what is happening pretty quickly. In another couple of weeks we should certainly know what is going on.

"But, yes, I have been talking to the players. Nobody has said no yet, so that's good news and, just thinking about it, I think it's a good time of the year for us because the players are still fresh.

"To be honest with you, I have a harder time at the end of the year getting players, so I think that bodes well for us coming to Charlotte."

One player King knows she can rely on is Seles. The Yugoslav-born baseliner is one of the most loyal players in the competition.

"Monica tends to just say: I will be there," King said.

"Monica has just been exceptional as far as saying if you want me, I will be there. That's the kind of carte blanche you want with the players because then I know what is happening. There is consistency there.

"Monica seems to be very nationalistic. I think when you become an American citizen... you've come from a different country, I don't know, I think there's even sometimes a stronger sense of opportunity and understanding of what they have and I think that sometimes make a difference too."


03/07/02 Seles Stops Sharapova

Monica Seles faced the pressure of playing teen-age phenom Maria Sharapova, a 14-year-old who's already generated considerable buzz despite playing at only her first Sanex WTA Tour event. And although the Russian youngster played a spirited first game, suggesting the match would turn into a crowd-pleasing slugfest, the match turned into a rout, with the veteran American railroading the teen-ager 6-0, 6-2.

Sharapova, half the age of her 28-year-old opponent, nearly broke Seles in the first game of the match. But after losing that game, Sharapova bowed out of the set in 23 minutes. Seles simply pounded her groundstrokes, and ended up winning most of the long baseline rallies under swirling conditions.

Despite the uneven score, Seles said she was impressed with Sharapova's game, and the confidence she showed on the court. "She's a terrific girl. And for her age, she's just great," Seles said. "If she keeps on this road, she'll have a wonderful future. Her game reminds me of Lindsay's [Davenport]. She hits flat and on both sides."

Seles said she struggled with the wind in the first set, but found her groove as the wind died down. "I was happy with how I played," Seles said. "It was good to hit a lot of balls."

After the match, Sharapova, a finalist at this year's Australian Open girls event, was hardly discouraged: "I'm going to remember this for my whole life. I enjoyed everything about it. It really teaches you a lot of things because you're not playing a junior, you're playing a pro, and today, I played against an unbelievable pro, and I think I handled it well."

The Russian teen said she went into the match without fear, and even after dropping the first set without winning a game, she never thought about losing the match. "Even though the score was 6-0, I was doing my best," she said.

"I need to get a little stronger, but that'll come in the later years."

Elsewhere on Thursday, American Meghann Shaughnessy, the No. 6 seed, defeated Martina Muller 6-2, 6-4. Another American Amy Frazier also advanced with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Nuria Llagostera Vives.

"I've been spending a lot of time on my conditioning and I think that's made a big difference in my game," said Shaughnessy, who in the past year has darted up the rankings. "[My rise in the rankings] comes just from hard work and persistence. I always knew it was going to happen. It was just when."


02/22/02 Mauresmo Sets Up All-French Final After Seles Win

DUBAI (Reuters) - Amelie Mauresmo upset second seed Monica Seles 6-4 6-3 Friday to ensure an all-French final at the Dubai Tennis Championships, after Sandrine Testud earlier knocked out top seed Venus Williams.

American Seles failed to make the most of her chances, despite break points in the third and seventh games of the first set, and faced two set points at 5-4.

She saved the first with a service winner, but third seed Mauresmo hit a blistering winner down the line on the second.

Seles then snatched an early break in the second set to lead 1-0 but Mauresmo's searing backhand proved too strong and accurate for her.

The Frenchwoman broke back immediately, and gained a second break for 3-1 with the aid of her third net-cord of the match. The win was her second hard court victory over Seles.


02/21/02 Seles and Testud Storm Into Dubai Semis

DUBAI (Reuters) - Monica Seles and Sandrine Testud both enjoyed one-sided victories to stride into the semifinals of the Dubai Open on Thursday.

Second seeded Seles, who admits she is feeling weary and grumpy after playing for eight consecutive weeks, took just 46 minutes to overwhelm seventh seed Angeles Montolio of Spain 6-0 6-2 and fourth seeded Testud swept past sixth seed Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand 6-2 6-0.

Seles, who claimed her 52nd career singles title in Doha on Sunday, won the first eight games, but then dropped her serve.

She was also broken when serving for victory at 5-1, but she immediately broke back to take the match.

"I hadn't played her before and didn't know what to expect, but she gave me the kind of ball I liked," the American said afterwards.

"I just tried to stay aggressive, but it was a very difficult match to play because of the wind.

"Even though I lost two service games I still thought that I served well, but definitely my returns were the best thing today."

Tanasugarn revealed that she was feeling drained after reaching the Doha final, and that she had been unwell for the past couple of days. But Testud thought she would have won the match anyway.

"When I play good I think I have everything to beat her," said Testud.

"I was very concentrated on the return of serve, and I was aggressive, especially when she was playing her second serve. And I didn't make many mistakes. That's the whole story."

Top seed Venus Williams takes on Russia's Anastasia Myskina for a place in the semis later on Thursday while third-seeded Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo takes on Slovenia's Tina Pisnik.


02/18/02 Seles threatens to spoil Williams walkover in Dubai

The Dubai Tennis Championships will see a Grand Slam-style showdown between Venus Williams and her main rival for the Dubai crown, Monica Seles, if the pair's devastating form continues.

Seeded two for the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open, which kick starts the two-week women's and men's Dubai Tennis Championships on 18th February, Australian Open semi-finalist Seles presents the biggest threat to a walkover by number one seed and reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion Williams.

According to the seedings, Seles and Williams are destined to clash in the women's week final on 23rd February, in what will be a replay of their Australian Open quarter final, which Seles won, 6/7(4) 6/2 6/3.

Now a 28-year old veteran, Seles remains a major threat on the Sanex WTA Tour, as she demonstrated in 2001 with sweeping victories at tournaments in Brazil, Japan and China.

Having won nine Grand Slam titles and been ranked number one, Seles is enjoying the game more than ever and will be arriving in Dubai at what she claims is "The best time in my career".

"I truly love the game of tennis. It's why I play," she said. "Obviously the success that I had at the beginning of my career was amazing, and probably would have continued if my stabbing didn't happen. Since then it has been a lot tougher. I'm probably not at the same level I was. The competition is a lot stronger.

"But as long as I keep working hard, and it's most important that I stay healthy too at this stage, I do believe I have as good a shot as anybody else in the draw. This is probably the best time in my career. I'm only playing because I'm enjoying it. There are no pressures on me."

Commenting on Seles's decision to play in Dubai, Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free, said: "Monica is one of the legends of the women's game and we are thrilled that she will be playing in the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open.

"With the likes of Sandrine Testud competing in a strong women's field, it is by no means certain that Venus and Monica will meet in the final. But there is no doubt that if one player stands between Venus and the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open title it is Monica Seles and if both are on top of their game Dubai fans are in for a treat."

The Dubai Tennis Championships, comprising the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open and Dubai Duty Free Men's Open, are held under the patronage of HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence, UAE. The tournament runs from 18th February to 3rd March 2002.


02/18/02 Mighty Monica
Monica Seles has always been exceptional. The day she played in her first professional tournament at the age of 14 she reduced her opponent to tears of frustration, and she'll go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time.

She might have been THE best if not for the outrageous attack on her by a Steffi Graf fan that put her out of the game for more than two years just as she was proving to be almost invincible.

Fans in Dubai will be able to see the legend in person when Seles competes in the Dubai Tennis Championships. Owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence, UAE, play will get underway at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on 18th February.

For a long time after she was stabbed on the centre court of the Rothenbaum Club in Hamburg in 1993, Seles couldn't bear the idea of returning to a tennis court. Torn between her love of tennis and her fear, she became a recluse, locking herself in her room, refusing to confide in anyone, even the family that meant more to her than anything in the world. What made things even worse was that within days of being stabbed, she learnt that her father was suffering from cancer.

Eventually, she was persuaded to undergo therapy and, with the loving care of family and friends, Monica decided to return to the stage. She did so in spectacular fashion, winning the Canadian Open while breaking a tournament record for the least number of games lost.

"Monica's story is one of tremendous courage and determination and we're delighted that she will be playing in the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open," said Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free. "Spectators at Dubai Tennis Stadium have watched great champions in the past, but few can claim as much public affection as Monica. We look forward to witnessing the next chapter of her remarkable career in Dubai."

Although she would rarely be able to rise again to the phenomenal heights she reached before the attack, Monica has remained firmly inside the top 10. After her return she won the 1996 Australian Open and reached the US Open final the same year. And in 1998 she also reached the French Open final just three weeks after the death of her father.

But it is as a sensitive and caring human being that Monica has remained second to none. Somehow, despite being one of the greatest players the world has seen and earning millions and millions of dollars with people ready to attend to her every whim, Monica has kept her feet firmly on the ground.

She's just so normal, as two incidents at the US Open demonstrate. She once attended a post-match press conference soaked from a storm, and dripped rain all over the interview table. But instead of just leaving the mess for someone else to clean up as most players would, she found a towel and did it herself.

Monica is so open and makes friends easily, but values her private life very highly. You won't see her mates filling the player box at tournaments, because she doesn't want them recognised and harassed afterwards. They are friends who have known her for a long time and have been with her through the hard times as well as the good, and they are her escape into the 'real' world, away from the self-centred millionaires who inhabit her professional environment.

She does talk to people, and one thing that led her back into tennis was talking with a down-and-out in the street one day, and realising how lucky she was compared to him. But the major influence was when she did a tennis clinic for some disabled kids and was so moved by their ability to overcome their disadvantage in life that she decided her problems were minor compared to what they were suffering. So, in the nicest possible way, she was able to benefit from her own compassion for others.

She has a particularly soft spot for children, and makes sure she signs as many autographs for them as she can. "It's good to see the little kids," she said, "because I see myself in their eyes a lot of the time. I still have Bjorn Borg's autograph at home, in a case with a racquet that Yannick Noah gave me."

Despite her fortune, Monica likes the simple things in life. She doesn't throw her money around and drives a modest car.

"Compared to most other athletes I know I live pretty modestly," she said. "I'm pretty sensible with my money. I've come from nothing and really wouldn't like to go back there. Tennis has given me that luxury and I'd like to one day have a family and give them security. But hopefully not spoil them because money can be a huge spoiler of people's ambition."

And although she's looking forward to having more time to get away and she'll be happy to indulge her mother in five-star luxury somewhere, she has much simpler ideas for herself.

"I'd love to go backpacking and stuff like that," she revealed. "I'd love to go to India, Nepal, Morocco, Egypt, I'd love to do that. I think there'd be nothing greater than getting two or three girls and guys - because you need a guy for protection the way the world is going these days - and going into Yellowstone Park in the States just to get away. It would be awesome. I'd love that."

Meanwhile, she does get the opportunity to do things most people wouldn't get the chance of, and a few weeks ago in Australia she got up at 4am to satisfy a long-standing ambition.

"I went swimming with dolphins in the wild," she said. "I've had so many chances in captivity but I didn't want to do that. Then there was a time I had in Brazil, riding horses on the beach. That was truly magnificent. I did some dog-sleighing in Colorado. I love animals, so things like that are really special and I'm very lucky that I've been able to do that because I play tennis.

"I don't really get away from tennis much now. I managed to take three or four days off in China, but I've only got a limited time left and I want to make the most of it. Once I stop playing competitively then I'll take a year off and hopefully I'll just travel and slow down my pace. I'd love to go skiing more, scuba diving. I'd love to parachute, things I cannot do right now."

Those things will have to wait. First, there's business to be done at the Dubai Tennis Championships.


02/17/02 Hard-Serving Seles Beats Tanasugarn to Win Qatar Open
DOHA (Reuters) - Top-seeded American Monica Seles relied on her impressive serve to beat fourth seed Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand 7-6 6-3 and win the Qatar Open Sunday.

Seles was made to sweat by her courageous opponent as the pair slugged it out shot-for-shot, but the American's vast experience and better service game made the vital difference.

Seles, who had a marathon semifinal Saturday, lacked her characteristic mobility and even looked sluggish at times.

By contrast, the Thai star got into her groove from the start and played some brilliant shots past Seles, who was left looking at her opponent in disbelief at times.

Tanasugarn broke Seles in the first game, forcing her to fire the ball wide, but the American broke back in the next game and it went with serve through the rest of the set.

The Thai had the first chance to win it but missed a golden opportunity to get ahead as she frittered away two break points in the seventh game.

The tiebreak was level at six-all when Tansugarn hit the ball into the net and Seles seized the chance by hitting a winner down the line on the next point to clinch the set.

The second set followed the pattern of the first as Tanasugarn broke Seles in the first game but lost her own serve straight away before the American broke again in the seventh.

Another break in the ninth put the issue beyond doubt and gave Seles a winner's check of $27,000.


02/16/02 Seles through to Qatar final
Monica Seles reached the final of the WTA Qatar Open after overcoming a spirited fight from Australia's Alicia Molik to win 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-4.

She will now play Thailand's Tamarine Tanusugarn after the Thai player beat Janette Husarova in the other semi-final.

Sunday's match will be the second time Tanasugarn and Seles have met in a final - Seles winning in the 2001 Japan Open.

Seles had predicted a tough match with Molik and the Australian proved her right.

The 21-year-old Molik showed no nerves and left Seles shaking her head in admiration, particularly during the second set.

But Seles, winner of 51 titles on the circuit at the age of 28, used all her experience to clinch the final berth.

After losing a tight tie-break in the second set, the American went on the attack, breaking Molik in the third game and holding serve to book her place in Sunday's final.


02/15/02 Seles advances to Qatar Open semifinals

DOHA, Qatar (AP) -- Top-seeded Monica Seles was broken in the first game, then rolled past Nicole Pratt 6-1, 6-0 Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Qatar Open.

``I was in the zone today,'' Seles said. ``There is nothing an opponent can do when you are playing like that.''

Seles will next play Alicia Molik, who beat Tathiana Garbin 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Fourth-seeded Tamarine Tanasugarn also advanced to the semifinals, beating Maja Matevzic 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Tanasugarn meets Janette Husarova, who defeated Anastasia Myskina 6-2, 7-6 (2).

The tournament is sponsored by TotalFinaElf.


02/14/02 Seles, Husarova Advance in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar - Unseeded Janette Husarova of Slovakia upset second seeded Sandrine Testud of France Thursday to move into the quarterfinals of the WTA Qatar Open. Husarova, ranked 68th in the world, won 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 6-2.

She was joined in the round of eight by top seeded Monica Seles, who won 6-2, 6-3 over Venezuela's Maria Vento-Kabchi in less than an hour.

In other matches, eighth seeded Nicole Pratt of Australia defeated Selima Sfar of Tunisia 6-1, 6-1, while Italian Tatiana Garbin beat Eleni Daniilidou of Greece 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.


02/09/02 Dokic Sees Off Seles to Reach Paris Final

PARIS (Reuters) - Fourth seed Jelena Dokic won a battle of the generations by defeating Monica Seles 6-3 3-6 6-4 in the semifinals of the Paris Open indoor tournament on Saturday.

It was the first time in five encounters between the two that the 18-year-old Yugoslav has come out on top.

"We've had a few tough matches but I was never really able even to have a chance of winning so I'm very happy," a beaming Dokic told reporters.

"I really didn't think I was going to win even after I won that first set because she's such a great player and she always comes back. I just went for every point and didn't really worry about the score."

Dokic romped to a 4-1 lead in the first set, overpowering fifth seed Seles with unstoppable serves and groundstrokes.

The Yugoslav-born American raised her game in the latter part of the set but it was not enough to counter an inspired Dokic.

The second set looked like it was going to go the same way when world number nine Dokic broke to lead 2-1, but her 28-year-old opponent immediately broke back.

Seles upped the pressure, producing some lightning-speed returns and clinical baseline shots into the corners of the court.

Dokic seemed to wilt under Seles's punishing blows and two double-faults at 4-3 gifted the American a break-point.

Dokic saved that point and two more but Seles eventually won a superb rally to break and then held serve to seal the set.

In the third set Seles, the world number ten, matched her opponent's hitting power but she could not live with Dokic's speed.

The Yugoslav surprised Seles with several perfect drop-shots and sent her racing around the court.

DOKIC PROTESTS

Dokic contested several line-calls and at one point became so frustrated with the umpire she had to wipe away a tear before serving. But she held her nerve and did not drop a single service game in the set.

At 5-4 she produced two searing returns to gain two match points. Seles saved the first with a hefty backhand volley but hit a baseline shot wide on the next point, sending Dokic leaping around the court in an explosion of joy.

Dokic, who broke into the top ten last year after winning three singles titles, had lost her first match of the year to Anne Kremer of Luxembourg in Tokyo last week.

"Today has given me confidence. It's only my second tournament of the year so to reach the final is very good for me," she said.

She will face either world number two Venus Williams or defending champion Amelie Mauresmo of France in the final.


02/08/02 Experience Shows as Seles Downs Henin in Paris
PARIS (Reuters) - Monica Seles continued her good run of form by beating second seed Justine Henin 6-4 6-3 on Friday in the quarter-finals of the Paris Open indoor tournament.

Fifth seed Seles will meet Jelena Dokic in the semifinals after the Yugoslav defeated Elena Dementieva 5-7 6-1 6-2.

Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo crushed unseeded Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-2 6-2, and the Frenchwoman's opponent in the last four will be top seed Venus Williams , who dispatched another Italian, Silvia Farina Elia, 6-2 6-1.

World number seven Henin said Seles's greater experience had given her the edge.

"It was experience rather than quality of tennis that made the difference," the 19-year-old Belgian said. "I've been in the top 10 for less than a year while Seles has years and years of experience and a great record. She's accustomed to playing matches at this level."

The 28-year-old American sent the pint-sized Henin racing around the court with a series of shots from the baseline that peppered the baseline.

Henin responded with several winning serve-volley combinations and also produced some fine baseline shots. She broke to lead 4-3, but the aggressive Seles then won three straight games to take the first set.

In the second set the players earned huge cheers from the near sell-out crowd with a series of stunning rallies. Both held serve up to 4-3 before Seles, ranked 10th in the world, broke and held to win the match.

CANNONBALL SHOTS

Mauresmo, the third seed and world number eight, gave Schiavone little room for maneuver as she pounded shots all round the court.

The Italian, ranked 29th in the world, resisted early in the first set by saving improbable balls thanks to her speed, but Mauresmo broke to lead 4-2 and won four straight games to wrap the set.

The second set followed exactly the same pattern, with Schiavone unable to stem the flow of cannonball shots from the powerful Frenchwoman.

"I played an excellent match. I was feeling a bit like this time last year, when I won a series of tournaments," Mauresmo said.

She was upbeat about her chances against world number two Williams.

"I have the weapons to stop her playing the way she likes to," she said.

Earlier, Williams took the first set 6-2 and the second set was even worse for the hapless Italian, who trailed 4-0 before a desperate effort allowed her to break Williams. For most of the match, however, she had no answer to the top seed's merciless serve and powerful strokes.

Fourth-seeded Dokic came from behind to beat Russian Dementieva before setting her sights on breaking into the world's top-five this year.

"I'm looking toward the top five," the 18-year-old said. "But it's going to be tough to stay where I am. You see a lot of players get there and then go back so my first aim is to stay there."


02/06/02 Seles Shrugs Aside Fatigue for Paris Win
PARIS (Reuters) - Monica Seles breezed past Austria's Barbara Schett 6-2 6-3 in the first round of the Paris Open indoor tournament on Wednesday, despite feeling fatigued after a punishing start to the year.

"I'm really spaced out right now. I can't believe I committed to this (playing) schedule," the fifth-seeded American said afterwards.

Seles reached the semifinals at last month's Australian Open, where she lost to Martina Hingis in three sets, and then lost to the same player last week in the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

"I've been playing well but, at the same time, I was disappointed at losing those close matches," she said.

The Yugoslavia-born American seemed both confident and aggressive in her clash with Schett, ranked 20th in the world.

She repeatedly surprised her opponent with searing returns and powerful shots from the baseline but said afterwards the match had been closer than it looked.

"I was trying to stay really focused. Inside, it was really different," said the former world number one.

"As a professional, you try to do your best every time you step out on to the court and to block everything else out."

"I'm going to be playing a lot of tournaments this year...I'm trying to get my ranking a little bit higher."

Seles is currently ranked 10th in the world.

She was not prepared to comment on her last appearance at the Paris Open indoor tournament, in 1993, when she was runner-up to Martina Navratilova after a hard-fought three-set final.

"Yes, it's been a long 10 years," she said.

Seles, ranked number one in the world in 1993, was sidelined from the game for two years after being stabbed in the back by a crazed Steffi Graf fan in Hamburg on April 30.


01/24/02 Hingis Overcomes Weary Seles to Enter Sixth Final
Third seed Martina Hingis overcame a weary Monica Seles to advance to her sixth consecutive Australian Open final on Rod Laver Arena, Thursday 4-6 6-1 6-4. It was the first time the former world No.1 had won a match at Melbourne Park after losing the opening set.

Hingis recovered from a first set trouncing from the fired-up four-time champion, to hand Seles only her third singles loss ever in 45 matches at Melbourne Park.

A focussed Seles dictated play in the first set, overpowering Hingis with some heavy hitting from the baseline and closing it out with an ace. But the Swiss Miss steadied her game in the second set, and began to anticipate where the Seles groundstrokes would drop.

Hingis ran the wilting American ragged, breaking Seles' serve twice to take the set, and then racing to a 5-1 lead in the third before Seles staged an inspiring but fruitless comeback. A mammoth unforced error tally (40 compared to Hingis' 12) proved Seles' undoing.

"I had to lift my game. Monica was playing very well and there wasn't much I could do at the beginning," said Hingis, a three-time champion here.

01/24/02 Unforced errors cost Seles in loss to Hingis

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Monica Seles didn't give up after trailing 1-5 in the third set against Martina Hingis.

After some error-filled play, Seles started hitting winners from the baseline, closing the gap to 4-5. The crowd at the Australian Open semifinal roared its approval at the comeback.

But a relieved Hingis served out the match Thursday when Seles hit a forehand wide as she approached the net. It was one of 40 unforced errors by Seles, four times as many as the Swiss, who won 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

``I think Martina was just more consistent through the match,'' said Seles, who has won the Australian Grand Slam title four times. ``I made too many unforced errors at key times.

``Whenever I had my chances, I kind of lost them. Against her, you can't afford to do that.''

But the eighth-seeded Seles also dominated the match at times, hitting 46 winners compared to Hingis' 32.

``She's a very tough player, and I'm very happy to have beaten her,'' said the third-seeded Hingis, who advanced to her sixth straight Australian Open final.

Seles, winner of nine Grand Slam events, was focused against Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, winning in three sets in her first victory over the defending Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion in seven tries.

The Yugoslavia-born Seles, who became a U.S. citizen in 1994, moved back to the top of women's tennis after a two-year layoff following her 1993 stabbing by a deranged fan of rival Steffi Graf. But she has not dominated the game the way she did before the attack.

However, Seles said she had been playing and practicing consistently since recovering from a right foot injury that forced her to withdraw from Wimbledon last year.

``As long as I can cut down my unforced errors, I can have good wins,'' said the 28-year-old Seles.

Hingis' victory snapped Seles' 18-match winning streak, and the Swiss star now holds a 13-4 record against the American. However, Seles won their previous two meetings, both in California last August.


01/22/02 Seles says women are hitting harder

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Monica Seles, one of the hardest hitters on the women's tour, is startled by the power that has overtaken the women's game.

``The balls are coming back so much faster now, and the serves also,'' Seles said Tuesday after beating Venus Williams 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-3 in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

``Every girl on the tour is hitting hard. That's where the game is going.'' said Seles, who has won nine Grand Slam titles. ``It's not all serve, like let's say in men's tennis. So it's a very happy medium.''

LOOKING AHEAD: After her quarterfinal loss to Monica Seles, Venus Williams already was looking ahead to the French Open.

``I've never been successful here, and I've done my personal best most times, and especially today, I did what I could,'' Williams said. ``But I just have the French Open in mind now, to end my nightmare there.''

Williams, the defending U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion, lost to Barbara Schett of Austria in the first round at Roland Garros last year.

VICTORY RITUAL: Thomas Johansson lamented that tennis in his native Sweden has faded in popularity, partly because sport thrives on flamboyant personalities.

``Look at me, I'm not that interesting,'' Johansson said. ``If you color your hair red and you act a little bit different, then you're interesting.''

Johansson reached the semifinals at the Australian Open with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over countryman Jonas Bjorkman.

SHORT SIDE: Martina Hingis is used to playing against champions who tower above her: Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport. But on Tuesday, Hingis (5-foot-7) was 4 inches taller than her opponent, Serra Zanetti.

``It was kind of nice to see somebody shorter on the other side,'' Hingis said after winning 6-2, 6-3.

Hingis has won five grand slam titles, but none since 1999, when she won her third straight Australian Open.


01/22/02 Seles upsets Williams to reach semis at Australian Open
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (TICKER) -- Monica Seles turned back the clock and Venus Williams.

Seles reached her first Grand Slam semifinal in more than two years on Tuesday with a 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-3 victory over the third-seeded Williams at the Australian Open.

The eighth-seeded American showed flashes of the player that dominated the 1990s along with Steffi Graf in reaching her first major semifinal since the 1999 French Open and stopping Williams' 22-match winning streak.

Seles has won the Australian Open four times, capturing the last of her nine Grand Slams here in 1996.

She will face third seed Martina Hingis of Switzerland in the semifinals. Hingis handed Seles her first defeat in 34 matches at Melbourne Park in 1997, going on to win the first of three straight crowns here.

Hingis posted a 6-2, 6-3 victory over unseeded Italian Adriana Serra Zanetti to advance to her sixth straight Australian Open semifinal.

This is the 19th Grand Slam semifinals for Hingis, who has advanced to the final here the last five years. She remains on course to claim her first major since capturing the last of three at Melbourne Park in 1999.

On the men's side, No. 16 Thomas Johansson defeated Jonas Bjorkman, 6-0, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, in the first all-Swedish quarterfinal since 1993 to advance to his first career Grand Slam semifinal.

Johansson will take on No. 26 Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic, who routed unseeded Austrian Stefan Koubek, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, to reach his first major semifinal.

All four matches were played under the retractable roof of Rod Laver Arena due to rain.

Williams, who had her right thigh heavily taped, won the first set in 50 minutes but suffered a hamstring injury.

"I really started feeling it around 4-3," said Williams, who called for the trainer at 4-4. "I really don't know when I did it or what happened. It was really strange because I've had pain in areas before where I've been hurting but never where it just sort of came up on me so quickly, where I've never had pain in that area before."

Seles started to rally right away, opening the second set with a break of serve. She broke again before evening the match by winning the set in just 32 minutes.

The former world No. 1 took advantage of two of Williams' 49 unforced errors to break serve in the fifth game of the deciding set. She withstood a challenge while leading 4-3, but broke again in the final game to defeat Williams for the first time in seven meetings.

"It was such a see-saw match and to pull through it and to stay really focussed at the end was really good," Seles said. "One or two service games really helped me out there and I was pretty lucky to end up winning from being 0-40 down. I didn't really think about winning or it slipping away. I was just worried about the next point at that stage and really throughout the match."

Seles, bothered by a sore throat, even made the most of Williams' injury timeouts.

"I was just having a hard time getting air and then she called the trainer and I thought, `Gosh, it's going to be one of those strange matches.' You've just got to stay within yourself and that's what I tried to do and it worked well," she said.

Seles believes she will be physically fine for her meeting with Hingis. She is just 4-13 lifetime against her Swiss foe, but has won the last two encounters.

"Physically, I really shouldn't be exhausted," Seles said. "The only thing is that I'm fighting a fever, so I was worried a little bit about that but right now I feel fine. A lot of players are having this virus and hopefully I will get through it so it doesn't sap my energy. It was really good to be playing indoors and not having the outside effects of heat and wind."

Williams, the reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, endured her first loss since a quarterfinal setback to Meghann Shaughnessy in the quarterfinals of the Benk of the West Classic last July. But she did not blame her loss on injuries.

"I did run for a lot of shots but there were a lot of shots I didn't run for, where I normally just scrap it back and just give my opponent one more look at the ball," Williams explained. "A lot of the time I didn't do that but I think she played well and she capitalized on all her opportunities, whereas I didn't always. That was the story of the match."

Williams had 39 winners and 15 aces but committed 10 double faults. She converted just 1-of-6 break-point chances while Seles was 5-of-7 on break-point opportunities and had 24 winners and 25 unforced errors.

Hingis had needed less than 3 1/2 hours to get through the first four rounds but was stretched to 73 minutes by the 83rd-ranked Italian. The two were meeting for the first time in their professional careers but had squared off early in their junior years, with a 10-year-old Hingis defeating a 14-year-old Serra Zanetti.

"I didn't know what to expect," Hingis said. "She's had a great tournament. It was good to get a speedy player today. She was hitting down the lines. She played very well."

Hingis gained the early advantage at 3-1 and closed out the set in 38 minutes. She broke for a 2-0 lead in the second, setting up a string of three straight breaks. But Hingis sealed her 43rd match win at the Australian Open by converting her fourth match point.

"This is what players like me wait for -- the big occasions," she said.

The 21-year-old Hingis is happy to have had an easier time getting through the draw than she did last year, when she needed to win an 8-6 third set against Serena Williams in the quarterfinals and defeat Venus Williams in the semifinals before succumbing to Jennifer Capriati in the final.

"It's nice to get through it easier than last year," Hingis said. "I think it's part of the reason (that I lost). But if you reach the finals here you try to give it all. I mean, the finals is the finals. It's not like Jennifer had the easier way to go through it. She also had to beat Monica and Lindsay (Davenport), so those are not two players which are nobody. Hopefully, I get another chance to be in the finals."

Hingis also is feeling refreshed and eager after missing the end of 2001 after tearing three ligaments in her right ankle in October.

"It was also nice that it was almost the end of the season," said the former world No. 1, who started the season with a tournament win in Sydney. "I only missed out on two tournaments. So it wasn't like I missed out on half of the season, or something. So it was like great timing at that point, I could say. Sometimes it's nice, definitely, to -- it's not that it's forced, but you have time to regroup and just relax and then go 100 percent behind everything."


01/22/02 Monica Turns Back the Clock to Oust Venus
Four-time Australian Open champion Monica Seles scored her first win over Venus Williams to blast into the semi finals of the 2002 Australian Open. In a battle of king hitters fought almost exclusively from the baseline, the 28-year-old Seles regained the heights of her world No.1 heyday to oust the No.2 seed 6-7(4) 6-2 6-3 in just under two hours on Rod Laver Arena, Tuesday night.

"Such a tough match," reflected Monica, who hadn't beaten Venus in six previous meetings. "It was a weird match for both of us. We were both fighting our own problems. I'm just happy it went my way."

Seles awoke Tuesday morning with a fever and sore throat and was thankful the match was played at night, in calm indoor conditions. Venus, who suffered from knee tendinitis in the first week, called for the trainer at 4-all in the first set and was off court for a tortuous eight minutes before returning with a strapped upper right thigh.

A near-capacity crowd gasped at the ferocity with which both players clouted the ball. Seles gained the early break to go 2-0 as Venus appeared taken aback at the step up in pace from previous matches. She soon settled and evened at 2-all. Despite her long injury time-out, Venus had little trouble holding service twice on her return to force the tiebreak. The 21-year-old was always in front in the tiebreak, taking it 7-4 with a volley winner.

Seles had battled grimly, but couldn't seem to put the ball beyond the reach of the sleek, long-limbed Venus. Often, she needed to hit three virtual winners to win the point. "Balls were flying all over the place," Monica recalled. "It was hard to get a rhythm."

But Venus fell into an erratic patch on serve early in the second, alternating booming aces with anticlimactic double faults. She all but surrendered the first game with two double-faults. Seles continued to chase tenaciously and blast the ball toward the corners. Her game plan lacked subtlety but not courage. She achieved the double service break to go up 4-1, in a mammoth 18-point game, when Venus, who'd been at game point six times, double-faulted on breakpoint.

Pocketing the second set 6-2, Seles survived a break point in the fourth game then broke Williams to go 3-2. Again, Venus threw in both an ace and double-fault, as well as looping two shots long. She was to make twice as many unforced errors as Seles.

Serving at 4-3, Seles withstood a final fightback from Williams that threatened to turn the match around. She bared her competitive fire by coming back from 0-40 to hold for 5-3. The momentum was all one-way now, and Monica broke Williams in the last game. On the final point, a terrific angled return kept the pressure on Venus, who ultimately dumped a forehand into the net.

While the crowd went nuts, and Oracene Williams joined in the applause, Monica's reaction was cool and composed.

"Such a see-saw match," said the winner post-match. "To pull through it and stay focused at the end was really good. As I keep saying, I'm really enjoying myself out there."

Monica next faces Martina Hingis, the woman who ended her unbeaten Melbourne run at 33 matches in the semi finals three years ago. Seles, who has won their last two clashes, expects "A very different type of match. Martina is very consistent off both sides and hits a high percentage of first serves. You have to rise up to the occasion when you play a champion like her and it's just a question of who will do that better."

But no question who did it better tonight. "She deserved to win," said a disappointed Venus. "She went out there and took it to me. Who knows? Maybe she'll take the whole Slam home. Great story. She'd deserve it."

01/22/02 Steely Seles Overcomes Williams
Four-time Australian Open champion Monica Seles moved into her sixth semi final here on Tuesday evening, care of a steely three-set win over No.2 seed Venus Williams 6-7(4) 6-2 6-3.

The eighth-seeded Seles displayed nerves of steel in the one hour, 57 minute grunt-fest which thrilled the packed crowd on Rod Laver Arena. Seles won the match with her consistency from the baseline - the former world No.1 committed half as many errors (25) as Williams(49) and played a tactically superior game form the backcourt.

Williams, who had been surrounded by an injury cloud coming into the match, received off-court treatment at 4-4 in the first set, after gingerly pulling up on her right leg. The reigning Wimbedon and US Open champion returned with her upper right thigh strapped, and held twice to force a tiebreak.

But despite Williams' most valiant efforts in the second and third sets, the gutsy Seles extended her extraordinary win-loss record here at Melbourne Park to 42-2, moving into the semi final where she will meet three-time champion Martina Hingis.

01/19/02 Seles in Quarters; Opponent Retires
Four-time Australian Open champion Monica Seles moved quickly into the quarter final on Sunday, after her Spanish opponent Anabel Medina Garrigues fell over during their match on Rod Laver Arena and was forced to retire due to a knee injury soon after.

The young Spaniard had raced away to a 2-0 lead in the first set before the former world No.1 recovered and reeled off the next three straight games to stand at 3-2. Medina Garrigues then tumbled over in the last point of the sixth game, and lay in agony, unable to move, on the court for five minutes while the trainer attended to her.

The distraught Spaniard tried valiantly to return to the game, but waved the white flag after hobbling through the next two points. Seles was leading 4-2 30-0 when Medina Garrigues decided to stop playing. The match had been in progress 33 minutes. She shook the American's hand before collapsing into her courtside chair and weeping.

"She's probably playing some of the best tennis of her career, so that was a tough situation," said Seles, who now has a 40-2 win-loss career record at Melbourne Park. "It is unfortunate because it was such a good game. Some of our best tennis was ahead of us."

Seles, the No.8 seed, will now play the winner of the Venus Williams vs Magdalena Maleeva match, scheduled on Vodafone Arena, late Sunday. "I'll try to watch a little bit (of that match), because I didn't get a chance to see either of them this week," said the American.

01/18/02 Seles content to enjoy tennis
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Monica Seles used to throw roses into the crowd when she was gathering Grand Slam titles with apparent ease.

A lot has happened since those seemingly carefree times. Her 1993 stabbing on a tennis court in Germany and the death in 1998 of her father are among the personal traumas she has endured.

But for the 28-year-old, nine-time Grand Slam champ, the love of tennis remains.

She has talked animatedly at the Australian Open this week about enjoying the game, though the four-time Australian champion is more reserved about her prospects for another title in Melbourne. Seles could face Venus Williams, who is seeded No. 2, in the quarterfinals.

All Seles would say Friday when asked about taking the trophy was that she ``wouldn't be surprised if I won it, and if I didn't''

``I really don't worry about the outcome of anything. I just do the best that I can in every part of my life.''

Seles insists she has no idea when she will retire from the sport that has brought her worldwide fame, but no majors since the 1996 Australian Open. That is the only one of her Grand Slam crowns won after her stabbing and a two-year absence from the tour.

Questions about retirement ``have come up I think the last six years of my career,'' said Seles, who is seeded eighth.

``Whenever the morning comes, not one morning but a couple of mornings, that I'm dreading going out there practicing and going to the gym, that's it,'' Seles said after beating Zimbabwe's Cara Black in the second round.

``This is probably the best time in my career. I'm only playing because I'm enjoying it, and there are no other pressures on me.''

On Friday, the former world No. 1 moved into the fourth round of this year's first major with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Italian Francesca Schiavone, seeded No. 31.

Seles insists she is still capable of winning one of the sport's big-four titles, despite not having reached a Grand Slam final since the 1998 French Open, where she lost to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. That came three weeks after the death of her father, Karolj, from cancer.

In 2001, Seles had wins over Jennifer Capriati, Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Martina Hingis. She won four titles, three in a row, and ended the season with a 13-match winning streak. But she was also troubled by a right foot injury.

Seles lifted her play against Schiavone, a gritty baseliner from Milan, ranked No. 36 and playing in only her second Australian Open. The Italian beat Seles in the Hopman Cup in Perth two weeks ago, but on Friday, Seles rebounded after losing her serve in the first game of each set.

``I was making some mistakes there in the first set, but I think in the key points, I played well,'' Seles said.


01/18/02 Monica & Venus Move Closer to Meeting
Four-time champion Monica Seles and reigning Wimbledon and US champion Venus Williams moved one step closer to a quarter final meeting after overcoming strong third round challenges on Rod Laver Arena, Friday.

In her first real test of the 2002 Open, the 28-year-old Seles, the No.8 seed, needed some of her fiercest hitting to get past Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-4 6-4. Seles was in all kinds of trouble early against the 31st seeded Italian.

Schiavone, who beat the former No.1 in a marathon three-setter at the Hopman Cup a fortnight ago, picked up where she left off in Perth, using her flowing backhand, deceptive pace and pugnacious spirit to charge to 4-2, with two chances for a double break, before a desperate Seles picked up the pace to crunch through the next four games.

Service breaks were exchanged at the start of the second set, and the grunts, groans and shrieks just got louder as the two women went at each other like a couple of gladiators. A thrilling point at 4-2 30-15 on the Seles serve, which she won with a running backhand pass, had the crowd on its feet and gave Seles the momentum to go 5-2.

Seles slowly imposed her champion's will but she was pushed the whole way. Thwarted while serving for the match at 5-4, she finally clinched it on the Schiavone serve with a forehand winner down the line.

"It was a very tough match," confirmed Seles. "She runs down every ball. Thank gosh on the key points I played well."

A warm crowd favorite here, as she is everywhere, the 28-year-old Seles extends her remarkable record at the Australian Open to 40 wins from 42 matches. The first of her four titles came in 1991 as a 17-year-old prodigy. Her fourth title, in 1996, is her last Grand Slam victory. The American next faces either Nathalie Dechy or Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues.

The second-seeded Williams hobbled through her second round against Kristina Brandi with left knee tendinitis and was in doubt for today's encounter with talented young Slovak Daniela Hantuchova. Apart from the knee bandage, Williams also took the court with taped wrists (a legacy of a previous bout with wrist tendinitis). The athletic American moved far more freely than in her previous round, but when four games flew past before she was able to get on the scoreboard, mumblings swept the crowd as to whether Williams would last the match.

The 18-year-old Hantuchova, who zoomed 70 places up the rankings in 2001, shrewdly moved the American from side to side with her fluent groundstrokes, especially forcing Williams wide on the backhand, to exert maximum pressure on the left knee. Hitting freely, and with Williams landing just 44 per cent of her first serves in play, the Slovak took the first set 6-3.

As fear over the state of her knee was allayed, Williams' champion's pride struck back in the second. She broke serve at the first opportunity and fought back from a 0-40 deficit to hold for a 2-0 lead. An eight-game streak carried Williams to 2-0 in the third set. However, she fell into error, losing her service game at 1-2 from 40-15 up with a double fault at deuce and an errant backhand. The tall and slim Hantuchova, with a game as photogenic as her looks, swept through the next three games to lead for the first time in the deciding set.

Williams held to draw level at 3-3 and then three consecutive, dramatic service breaks decided the match. Hantuchova led 40-30 but failed to win the seventh game. Williams was next broken to 30, with one of Hantuchova's winners an impressive lob which she scooped up on the half-volley.

On her serve at 4-4, Hantuchova had the match on her racquet. Twice she reached game point but inexperience on big occasions proved costly. Both times, she committed errors going for risky winners. Williams piled on the pressure on her first break chance, and unleashed three huge forehands to force the error.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Williams made no mistake, going through 3-6 6-0 6-4 in one hour, 47 minutes. "I've been in these situations more than she has, so I was probably a bit more prepared," the second seed said of her slow start. Agreed Hantuchova: "On the big points I went for it and I missed it. I think a little bit of inexperience cost me the match."

William's fourth-round opponent is No.13 seed Magdalena Maleeva, who overcame Lisa Raymond 7-5 6-1 on Vodafone Arena. "For sure I'll have to hit a lot of balls," Williams predicted, looking ahead to the next battle. "She (Maleeva) is older and plays calculating tennis."

But we're destined to see a lot more of Daniela Hantuchova. "She played very well, ran down all kinds of balls, was doing all the right things," praised Williams. "She's come a long way from the first time I played her a few months ago."

That meeting was at Wimbledon last year, where Hantuchova went on to win the mixed doubles. Twice last year, the teenager pushed Jennifer Capriati to three sets; in the latter encounter at the Canadian Open, the youngster led by a set and two breaks before having the maturity to admit she choked.

Hantuchova admires her countryman Miloslav Mecir, who was a finalist to Ivan Lendl in the 1989 Australian Open, and seems to possess some of his soft-handed touch and languid style. She'd be an exciting addition to the top 10. Agrees Williams: "She has the height and the leverage and she thinks on the court too. I enjoy playing her. She puts the challenge to you."

01/17/02 Seles Continues Quest for Title Number Five
Four time Australian Open champion Monica Seles continued her quest for Australian Open number five with a tough 6-4 6-4 victory over Francesca Schiavone early Friday afternoon on Rod Laver Arena.

The match didn't start well for Seles who double faulted on the first point of the match. Determined baseline play from Schiavone had the No.8 seed in early trouble, down 0-2 in under ten minutes. The American admitted to a few nerves before the match, having lost to the Italian in Perth just a few weeks ago.

"We played last week and we both knew that it was going to be a tough match."

After cutting down on early unforced errors, Seles fought her way back with some classic baseline play and took the first set 6-4 in 44 hard-fought minutes.

Seles executed a smarter game in the second set, prevailing over the Italian and moving through to the fourth round and toward a possible meeting with Venus Williams in the quarter finals.

01/16/02 Sun Shines on Seles and Hingis
Eighth seed Monica Seles and third seed Martina Hingis looked cool under sunny skies in their cruisy second round victories over Zimbabwean Cara Black and German Greta Arn on Wednesday afternoon.

Four-time champion Seles sailed past Black in 53 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, while triple champ Hingis accounted for Arn 6-1 6-3 in 57 minutes on Vodafone Arena.

Seles came off the court beaming. "Finally we got some sunshine today," she said. Crowds agreed, shedding layers and soaking up not only the sun but the star's play.

Seles' opponent Cara Black's only chance against Seles was to move the hard-hitter around the court, taking advantage of her slower speed and a 'double-hands on both sides' hitting style. However, with Melbourne's Rebound Ace playing particularly slow this year, Seles quickly began dictating from the back of the court. Seles is no stranger to controlling match play at the Open, dropping no more than two sets in the years she has won the event. Even more impressive, of her 41 matches played here, she has lost only 2.

Black, a doubles specialist who won seven titles last year with partner Elena Likhovtseva, quickly lost her first service game. Under the glare of an Australian sun and Seles' sizzling groundstrokes, Black's versatile net play was not enough to stop the Seles supernova which posted a 6-1 score in the first set.

Seles, who often countered Black's volleys with her own brand of aggressive net play later spoke of the trouble with switching to new serve-volley tactics: "I cannot run...unfortunately my body will not allow me to do that." Seles was referring to foot stress which had forced her to miss four months of play in the 2001 season. She put the stress down to "a gruelling schedule" with "no easy matches. That takes its toll, day in and day out."

Nevertheless, volley Seles did, stretching to a 5-0 lead in the second set before Black managed to break her serve. Black sliced, diced and tried the whole kitchen sink but could not halt the Seles tide. Not even Black's eccentricity: rolling each ball around on her stomach, could stop Seles' swift victory.

When asked about her uncanny ability to progress easily through the opening rounds at Melbourne Park, Seles replied, "All I'm doing is trying to take it match at a time."

Out on Vodafone Arena, Hingis made short work of the German qualifier Arn, who committed a lethal 31 unforced errors to Hingis' seven. The former world number one is also well known for her ability to close out routine matches in the first round of a Grand Slam, will face German Barbara Rittner in the third round.

Hingis attributes her consistency to "just lots of tennis. Like four hours a day on the court...(though) I'm never going to be a power junkie."

When asked to comment on the increasing number of injuries in the game she was hard but fair. "It comes with the game...you still have to sometimes go out there and play...sometimes business requires it...you just have to do it...you have to live with injury sometimes."

01/15/02 Seles Cruises Through to Third Round in Australia
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former world number one Monica Seles breezed into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday with a 6-1 6-1 win over Cara Black.

Seles, Australian Open champion four times between 1991 and 1996, hardly put a foot wrong as she coasted to victory in 53 minutes.

The only hiccup the Yugoslav-born American made was in the second set when she failed to serve out the match at 5-0 but she quickly made amends by breaking Black's next service game to seal an easy win.

``It's great to be back here and playing well again,'' said Seles, who won the last of her nine grand slam titles with an emotional victory at the 1996 Australian Open. ``This is my favorite tournament.''

Seles will play either Francesca Schiavone or Jelena Kostanic in the third round with a possible quarter-final against tournament favorite Venus Williams looming.


01/05/02 The Fate of Two Former Champions
Surprisingly, Monica Seles and Mary Pierce are considered veterans of the WTA tour at ages 28 and 26 respectively. Both are multiple Australian Open winners but today the two champions experienced opposite fates. Seles coasted into the second round while Pierce was forced to retire with an unexpected abdominal injury.

Four time Australian Open champion and tenth seed Monica Seles spent no time dispatching the unorthodox Patty Schnyder 6-1 6-2 in her first round match on Vodafone Arena today. Having played and beaten Schnyder twice before, today crowd favourite Seles made it a hat trick. Schnyder's inability to capitalise on break-point opportunities made for Seles' quick path to the locker rooms.

In her post-match press conference Seles sung the praises of a reduced schedule in the lead-up to the Australian Open this year. "I had such a great time in Perth last year (at the Hopman Cup) so I decided to do that again and just try to save all my energy and do the best that I can for these next two weeks.

"I think it was too much playing singles and doubles. We see girls at 20 (years old) getting injured, and for me at my age I just have to focus on singles."

The American made no secret of her love for Australia, adding that it had nothing to do with her unbelievable success rate at the Open: "I really enjoy my time here. I have a lot of family and friends, so it makes it more special. I try not to pick a place I like or not on the basis of how I do.

"But Australia is one of the great places I really look forward to coming back to every year, play or not play," said the No.8 seed, who looks to make an impact in her section of the draw, following ninth seed Sandrine Testud's premature defeat earlier today.

From the other side of the tracks, wildcard recipient, Mary Pierce, saw only four games on the court before curtseying out to American Jill Craybas, 0-4. The two-time champion who did not drop a set on her way to an Australian Open victory in 1997 was plagued by spinal injuries in 2001 causing her ranking to plummet to 131.

Today, it was a new problem that forced the popular Frenchwoman out. An abdominal strain was the cause of constant interruptions to Pierce's serving action which she later explained was a possible result of her body reacting to lack of match practice. Pierce called the trainer during the first game of the match, when serving at 40-40. "It was impossible for me to serve, to stretch, lift my arm up like I normally would do in a service action." Pierce left the court for treatment (taping) which proved ineffective on her return.

Despite having reached the third round or better at Melbourne Park for the past five years an inconsolable Pierce eventually withdrew from the match. Fans will be disappointed and Mary will be unable to display one of the brave new outfits she is renowned for here at the Open.

01/05/02 Spain beats Americans in Hopman Cup Final
PERTH, Australia (AP) - Tommy Robredo upset Jan-Michael Gambill, then teamed with Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to win the mixed doubles as Spain defeated the United States on Saturday to capture the Hopman Cup championship.

Down a match point to the No. 21 ranked player in the world, the 19-year-old Robredo rallied to defeat Gambill 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2) to even the best-of-three final at 1.

Monica Seles, who first won the event for her native Yugoslavia in 1991 as an 18-year-old, gave the Americans a 1-0 lead by defeating Sanchez-Vicario 6-1, 7-6 (6).

When Sanchez-Vicario smashed a forehand down the line past Gambill to secure the mixed doubles 6-4, 6-2, she claimed another Hopman trophy to go with the one she won as an 18-year-old with brother Emilio 12 years ago.

Tournament director Paul McNamee said it was the promise of playing alongside Robredo that convinced Sanchez-Vicario to make the trip to Perth.

``He is a future star, he's young, he's talented and when I told Arantxa he'd be playing she immediately agreed,'' he said.

``She told me then the kid was good and he proved it here. He can really play.''

A tense Gambill double faulted on match point at 5-4 to bring the score to deuce and then lost his next service point to give Robredo a break point.

When the Spaniard chased down a seemingly impossible Gambill drop shot to win the point and level the set at 5-all, the American lost his nerve and smashed his racket.


01/04/02 Seles gives U.S. Hopman Cup Final lead

By Ossian Shine

PERTH, Australia (Reuters) - Monica Seles put one hand on the Hopman Cup on Saturday when she beat Spain's Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 6-1 7-6 in the first singles match of the final.

Jan-Michael Gambill will secure a U.S. victory in the Burswood Dome if he beats Tommy Robredo in the second singles. The U.S. were runners-up last year.

Both Seles and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario are bidding to become the first player to win the mixed team event twice.

Sanchez-Vicario won the tournament with brother Emilio in 1990 while the following year Seles, representing her country of birth Yugoslavia, won with Goran Prpic.

``I had to play really well,'' Seles smiled afterwards as she waited for Gambill's match to begin. ``She got more and more comfortable and harder to break as the match went on.

``Arantxa is a very good friend of mine and we are both trying to win this tournament for a second time.

``But I am very happy to have won.''

Heading into the match Seles held a 19-3 head-to-head lead over the Spanish 30-year-old and Seles's superiority was evident in the opening set.

Darting around the court, blasting double-fisted winners she reeled off five games in a row to win the opening set 6-1 in just 19 minutes.

But Sanchez-Vicario has built a career on her determination and bounced straight back in the battle of former world number ones.

Mixing up rallies with high, looping groundstrokes and forays to the net, Sanchez-Vicario matched her 28-year-old opponent point for point until Seles broke to lead 6-5.

But, serving for the match, Seles's concentration wavered and Sanchez-Vicario broke back to love to force a tiebreak.

Seles sealed the win on her third match point when the Spaniard floated a backhand wide.


01/04/02 U.S. & Spain to meet in Hopman Cup Final
PERTH, Australia (AP) - Jan-Michael Gambill beat Xavier Malisse in two tiebreakers, giving the United States a decisive lead over Belgium and a berth in Saturday's Hopman Cup final against Spain.

Malisse twice received treatment on his back during changeovers while losing to Gambill 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2) on Friday. The Belgian also took a three-minute injury break. After the match, Gambill questioned Malisse's injury.

``I'm not sure if he's not 100 percent or not,'' he said. ``He played as good tennis after the injury break as before, so you've got to look at that. He had some sort of problem, but I think he got over it.''

Monica Seles gave the Americans a winning start with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Kim Clijsters, the fifth-ranked player.

``Kim and I both wanted this match because we needed it for our teams,'' Seles said. ``We wanted it badly and we gave it our all.''

Clijsters and Malisse made the final margin 2-1 for the Americans when the Belgians won the mixed doubles 7-6 (3), 6-2.

Italy's bid for a finals berth ended when Frenchman Arnaud Clement defeated Davide Sanguinetti 6-2, 7-5 to leave the Italians one match short of qualifying. Italy won 2-1 but needed a 3-0 sweep to advance to the final.

Virginie Razzano of France injured her ankle in the first set of her match with Francesca Schiavone and defaulted at 1-1. The French had to default the mixed doubles because of Razzano's injury.


01/02/02 Italy Upsets U.S. in Hopman Cup

PERTH, Australia (AP) - Francesa Schiavone and David Sanguinette beat their highly favored American opponents Wednesday to give Italy a winning 2-0 lead in their round-robin match at the Hopman Cup tennis tournament. Schiavone, who beat No. 5-ranked Kim Clijsters two days earlier, overcame a hamstring injury to upset Monica Seles 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 and give Italy a 1-0 lead.

Sanguinette then beat Jan Michael Gambill 7-6 (1), 6-3, giving Italy the winning margin, with the mixed doubles to be played later Wednesday.

The top-seeded Americans and Italy both are 1-1 in Group A.

Lleyton Hewitt, the world's No. 1-ranked player, ignored a high fever to win his singles match and then combined with Australian teammate Alicia Molik to beat Argentina. After his second match, he broke out in spots and tournament officials said Hewitt was undergoing tests to determine whether he has chicken pox. Hewitt tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Mariano Zabaleta after Molik was beaten 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-4 by Paola Suarez in a Group B match. Hewitt and Molik lost the first set of the mixed doubles but came back for a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 win, including a 10-7 margin in the deciding third-set super tiebreaker, to take the match 2-1, Australia's second straight win.

On Thursday, Australia will play Spain, also 2-0, with the winner advancing from Group B to Saturday's final. Hewitt started sluggishly and was broken in his first service game, but it was the only time he dropped his service during the match.

``I don't feel great, that's no secret,'' said Hewitt, who received treatment from a doctor on Wednesday morning after falling ill overnight. Chicken pox is usually more serious when contracted as an adult, meaning Hewitt's Australian Open appearance beginning Jan. 14 could be in jeopardy.

Suarez struggled with Molik's powerful serve in the first set of the women's singles, but took control in the tiebreaker when the 20-year-old struggled to return serve.

Molik fought back in the second but in the third, Suarez broke her serve in the third game before trading service games to win the match.


01/02/02 Schiavone Repeats Hopman Heroics with Win Over Seles

PERTH, Australia (Reuters) - Little-known Francesca Schiavone followed up her upset victory over world No. 5 Kim Clijsters by upsetting 10th-ranked Monica Seles, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, at the Hopman Cup on Wednesday.

The 31st-ranked Italian's triumph at the Burswood Dome gave her country a 1-0 lead over the top-seeded United States at the mixed team event, with two matches to come.

``Wow she played really well I can see why she was number one,'' Schiavone said of Seles after her gutsy win.

``But today I played really well. I am very, very happy because now the people know me, the people like me.''

Schiavone played virtually the whole match with a hamstring injury after stretching the muscle at the top of her right leg chasing a drop shot in only the third game.

``I felt the problem all the match. At the start, I thought maybe I can't play but my coach told me 'come on, you can do it','' she said.

Jan-Michael Gambill takes on Davide Sanguinetti in the second singles contest before the final mixed doubles match.

Qualifiers Italy are looking for their first win in Group A, having lost 2-1 to Belgium on Tuesday.