HOUSTON -- Top-seeded Monica Seles beat Mary Joe Fernandez for the fifth straight time yesterday, 6-4, 6-3, to win the Virginia Slims of Houston.
It was the second victory in Houston for Seles, who had won her first career tournament here in 1989.
Fernandez of Miami played aggressively, but it wasn't enough to overpower the world's No. 1-ranked player. Fernandez, seeded second, is ranked fifth.
Seles struggled through much of the first set, but finally broke Fernandez in the sixth game and moved ahead, 5-2. Fernandez broke back two games later, but Seles served out the set.
The Yugoslav, who handled 84 percent of Fernandez's first serves, broke twice more in the second set.
Fernandez lost the match with a backhand net error on her return of serve.
"I just tried to mix it up," Seles said. "I was just trying to make her run for most of the balls. She's a tough clay-court player."
Seles said she was bothered by the sun and the wind.
"The wind picked up, and you couldn't go for precise shots," Seles said.
Seles won $70,000, Fernandez $31,500.
Despite Seles' hard-hitting, grunting performance, Fernandez was favored by the crowd of 5,519 at the Westside Tennis Center. They often cheered her on at crucial moments.
Fernandez said she thought she played well.
"I kept going for it. I played aggressively," Fernandez said. "I missed by a little bit. She played very solid."