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Conchita Martinez advances in the Bank of the West Classic

July 23, 1997

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ Conchita Martinez isn’t sure why her game has gone steadily downhill since she was the No. 2-ranked player in the world last year.

So she hired a new coach to help her find out.

``When things weren’t going well, I had to try to do something different,″ Martinez said after beating Australian Siobhan Drake Brockman 6-3, 6-2 Tuesday night in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic.

Her victory came in her debut under new coach Gabriel Urpi, a former Davis Cup player for Spain. She fired her longtime coach, Joe Brandi, last week and Urpi began working with her last weekend.

``He (Brandi) is a great coach,″ said Martinez, a 25-year-old Spaniard who won Wimbledon in 1994 and has 28 Corel WTA Tour victories, but none this year. ``Sometimes you just have a problem with chemistry between player and coach.″

Martinez, a 10-year pro, was ranked No. 2 in the world throughout most of the first half of last year. But in 10 tournaments this year, she has gotten past the quarterfinals only twice.

Her only final appearance this year was in the Italian Open, which she had won the previous four years. She was beaten 6-4, 6-0 by Mary Pierce there, and subsequently was knocked out in the round of 32 at Wimbledon.

Her present No. 11 world ranking is her lowest in five years, and is down from fifth at the start of this season.

``Physically, I feel fine,″ she said. ``Mentally, I need to be more focused and get my confidence back. It’s very hard to stay up in the rankings if you’re not playing well.

``Hopefully this summer I can get my ranking up where it’s supposed to be. I’ve been a pro for 10 years now, and it’s hard to keep motivation and concentration so high all the time. Maybe (the coaching change) will help me get my confidence back.″

Against Drake Brockman, a qualifier for this tournament, Martinez used an array of off-speed shots to complement what she described as a much-improved forehand.

After losing the first game on an ace off an advantage point, Martinez lost only three points in the next four games. After Drake Brockman pulled within 4-3, Martinez won the next game and finished off the set with four straight points.

In the second set, Martinez won 10 straight points during one stretch as she gained confidence and attacked the net in addition to sending Drake Brockman scurrying after lobs and drop shots.

Martinez will play Amy Barker, a 4-6, 6-0, 6-0 winner Tuesday over Japan’s Naoko Kijimuta, in Thursday’s second round.

Top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Martina Hingis, the defending Bank of the West Classic champion, plays her first match today against Bulgaria’s Magdalena Maleeva. No. 2 seed Monica Seles will play her first match Thursday against Rita Grande of Italy.

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