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Hy-Boulais wins in Strasbourg; Graf next

May 19, 1997

STRASBOURG, France (AP) - Patricia Hy-Boulais of Canada defeated Helena Sukova 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the Strasbourg Open Monday and will face Steffi Graf in the second round.

Graf is top-seeded here with a first-round bye but is coming off the worst loss of her career.

Graf beat Hy-Boulais in both previous matches but both were three-set affairs, once in 1987 and another in 1991.

In other first round matches, fifth-seeded Yelena Likhovtseva of Russia routed Alexandra Fusai of France, 6-3, 6-2; Ai Sugiyama of Japan, edged Meike Babel of Germany 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4); seventh-seeded Nathalie Tauziat (7), France eliminiated Wang Shi-tang of Taiwan, 7-6 (7-1), 1-6, 6-2. and Tamarine Tanasugarm of Thailand defeated Paola Suarez of Argentina, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

Graf is coming off the worst loss of her career, beaten 6-0, 6-1 when by Amanda Coetzer of South Africa in the quarterfinals at the German Open last week.

Coetzer, seeded third, also beat Graf at the Australian Open this year and could meet her in the semifinals here.

Graf is returning to tournament play after being off the circuit since withdrawing from the final in Tokyo in February against Martina Hingis.

Since then Hingis has overtaken Graf as the No. 1 ranked player in women’s tennis but also had a knee injury. The 16-year-old Swiss star fell off a horse April 21. She has not played since then but is optimistic about playing in the French Open beginning May 26.

Graf’s longtime coach, Heinz Gunthardt, is present in Strasbourg after missing the German tournament last week because of television commitments.

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