Seles Extends Australian Streak
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Unbeaten forever Down Under, Monica Seles picked up where she left off at the Australian Open.
Despite a pulled groin muscle that caused her to wince in pain at times, the top-seeded Seles ran her streak to 22-0 at this Grand Slam event as she brushed past Janet Lee 6-3, 6-0 in 47 minutes on a cool, cloudy Tuesday afternoon.
Pete Sampras, the men’s No. 1, showed few lingering effects of the flu that delayed his arrival as he played mostly from the baseline to bedevil Tasmanian Richard Fromberg 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.
Sampras, who saved all 10 of the break-points against him, didn’t bother cranking up his big serve, hitting only four aces to Fromberg’s 11. Instead, Sampras, the 1994 champion, contented himself by staying back and picking his spots to charge the net. That worked to perfection as he put away 11 volley winners to Fromberg’s one.
``I’m over it. I feel fine,″ Sampras said of the flu, though he still sounded nasal and congested. ``I wasn’t really sure how my form was going to be. I felt I hit the ball pretty well, but I didn’t serve great.″
Unseeded Stefan Edberg, champion in 1985 on grass and 1987 on these hardcourts, began his last Australian Open with a tough 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1 victory over No. 36-ranked Jiri Novak three days before turning 30.
Three months before she was stabbed in Germany in 1993, Seles won her third straight Australian Open and the last of her eight Grand Slam titles in a thrilling final against Steffi Graf. While Graf is home this time, recovering from foot surgery, Seles is back with a bigger serve, bolder approaches to the net and an occasional running, one-handed forehand.
Lee, a 19-year-old qualifier from Southern California, couldn’t cope with Seles’ power or precision, managing to win only one point against Seles’ serve in the first set. By the time it was over, Seles had slugged 26 winners to Lee’s eight.
Seles grimaced afterward as she turned to the right toward her backhand to demonstrate the kind of movement that aggravates the pulled muscle she suffered while winning a tuneup tournament in Sydney.
``It’s still sore when I had to move on a few shots,″ she said, ``but I don’t tape it in a match, and I am not taping it in practice because I don’t feel like I can move as well with it on. I keep getting treatment two times a
day on it.
``It’s a groin pull, and I use constantly this (right) side. It’s nothing ... for me not to play. I’m going to try and say it’s not hurting, like what I did on Sunday. You can do it and tough it out.
``I’m not going to say when I feel pain, because I think other players are going to start playing me those shots, and it wouldn’t be the best.″
Seles said she had special memories of the ’93 Australian, a time when she played her best tennis and was able to enjoy herself off the court by bike riding around Melbourne.
``It’s very exciting to be back,″ she said. ``I love the stadium court. It was just a pure pleasure to play out there today. I love both sides, every single angle of it.″
The security guards who stand near her on and off court have become a fact of life for her.
``After what happened to me, it’s just necessary,″ she said.
Seles is seeded to meet No. 7 Iva Majoli in the quarters. Majoli beat Elena Makarova 6-4, 6-2.
No. 5 Kimiko Date also advanced easily, beating Angelica Gavaldon, 6-2, 6-0. No. 8 Anke Huber defeated Sandra Kleinova 6-1, 6-4, and No. 9 Mary Joe Fernandez beat Virginia Ruano-Pascual 6-4, 6-3.
In men’s matches, No. 3 Thomas Muster beat Thierry Guardiola 6-3, 6-3, 6-2; No. 7 Thomas Enqvist downed Marc Goellner 6-3, 6-2, 6-4; and No. 10 Goran Ivanisevic took Bernd Karbacher 6-4, 7-6 (11-9), 6-3.
No. 11 Richard Krajicek, who nearly pulled out of the tournament with an arm injury, won his opening match 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 against Jason Stoltenberg; No. 14 Andrei Medvedev defeated Carlos Moya 6-4, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (9-7); and No. 15 Todd Martin beat Daniel Vacek 6-4, 6-7 (7-5), 6-3, 6-4.