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Seles Wins 1st Title in 7 Months

April 12, 1999

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (AP) _ Monica Seles claims she goes into every match thinking she’s going to lose.

It seems like a strange attitude for one of the world’s best players, but it helped her stay strong during a seven-month title drought that finally ended Sunday.

Seles, the No. 2 seed, closed out a dominating run at the Bausch & Lomb Championships with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over unseeded Ruxandra Dragomir.

It marked Seles’ first title since the Princess Cup in Tokyo last September. It also ended her longest drought since 1997-98, when she went 11 months between titles. Seles said she kept an even temper during the dry spell, knowing eventually it would come to an end.

``I go out each match thinking I’m going to lose, so it doesn’t make a difference to me,″ she said. ``It doesn’t affect me as much when I lose, but it doesn’t affect me when I win either. That way, I can stay pretty even.″

Seles dropped a total of just 14 games throughout the tournament and never was in jeopardy of losing a set. Only Chris Evert had a better run at Amelia Island Plantation, in 1981, when she lost 12 games.

It was much more than Seles expected, because she came to North Florida simply hoping for a tuneup for the United States’ Fed Cup meeting next weekend against Croatia.

``I just wanted to take this a day at a time, a point at a time,″ Seles said. ``I wanted to keep working hard, and in some ways that was really good. I took pressure off myself. I just enjoyed every ball, every match, no matter if you win a big match, small match, it doesn’t matter. I think that really helped me.″

Seles earned $80,000 for the title and moved up one spot in the world rankings, to No. 3.

The match against Dragomir was much closer than the score.

The two stayed on the court for 1 hour, 17 minutes. Dragomir forced Seles to deuce in nine of the 17 games. Over the course of the match, however, she realized the difference between staying with Seles and beating her.

Dragomir tried to keep Seles moving, but her assortment of drop shots worked only sporadically. Seles came up with big points more often. She saved four of five break points against her and converted on five of her eight break chances.

``She played very good and she wound up winning most of the important points,″ Dragomir said. ``She put pressure on me a lot, made me miss a lot when I shouldn’t have. She played very good. I don’t think I played bad.″

Despite the loss, Dragomir won $38,000 and moved from 38th to 33rd in the world rankings. The Romanian failed in her first attempt to win in the United States, but said she still considered the tournament a success.

``I’m very happy,″ she said. ``I’m happy I had a chance to play against Monica in the finals instead of the second round. If you look at the score, it might have looked easy, but I think the match was a little tighter.″

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