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Stevenson Wins First Round Match

August 8, 2000

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Alexandra Stevenson lost the first set, after being in command, but rallied to beat Silvia Talaja 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Monday in the first round of the estyle.com Classic.

Stevenson, who lost to Anna Kournikova in the first round at the Acura Classic last week, needed almost two hours to advance in the tournament played at the Manhattan Country Club.

``I started pretty well, I was up 3-0, but I let her back in. I made silly mistakes,″ said Stevenson, who is 10-18 this year. ``The first set was in my hand. I told myself, `Buckle down, be tough, hit through the ball.′ I like to win, so I’m happy with the results.″

Stevenson burst onto the tennis scene last year when, at 18, she became the first woman qualifier to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.

In other first-round matches Monday, Anne-Gaelle Sidot of France beat Japan’s Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-4; Chanda Rubin breezed to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Julie Halard-Decugis of France; and Elena Dementieva of Russia beat Nathalie Dechy of France 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Sidot needed just 70 minutes to win, using blistering backhands for winners and connecting on 73 percent of her first serves.

``We had a tight practice set last week and she has improved a lot,″ Sidot said. ``I had to move quickly because she takes the ball early.″

The tournament features Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Conchita Martinez and U.S. Open champion Serena Williams as the top five seeds.

Williams, the defending champion, is the only one of the top five seeds who will play a first-round match. The first four received byes in the 32-player tournament.

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