MAHWAH, N.J. FNB — MAHWAH, N.J. -- The Pathmark Tennis Classic got what it wanted -- Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati in its final.
But not before Kathy Rinaldi almost spoiled it -- and Seles' return to tennis after skipping Wimbledon because of shin splints.
Rinaldi, ranked 72nd, extended Seles to three sets last night before dropping a 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 decision to the world's top-ranked player.
The win put Seles, 17, into today's final against Capriati, who defeated Peanut Louie-Harper, 6-4, 6-4, yesterday afternoon.
After her victory, Seles said she wouldn't represent Yugoslavia in the Federation Cup at Nottingham, England, starting tomorrow because of concern about her left leg.
"I don't want to pressure the leg," Seles said. "If I played in the Fed Cup, I wouldn't have time to prepare for San Diego, which counts in the [Women's Tennis Association] rankings. That's very important."
Last night, Seles looked as if she would advance in straight sets just like Capriati, 15. But Rinaldi changed those plans in the second set, running down every Seles shot and forcing the Yugoslavian into several unforced errors.
Seles, who looked tired at times in the second set, came out strong for the third set. She held serve in the opening game to restore her confidence and then used lobs, two-handed forehands and backhands to jump to a 5-0 lead.
Rinaldi, 24, held at love in the sixth game and forced a deuce in the seventh before Seles won the final two points on a mis-hit by Rinaldi and a cross-court forehand winner.
Seles will face Capriati for the third time. Capriati lost last year's final here to Steffi Graf in three sets.
There were times when their opening set was up for grabs, but it swung Capriati's way on a bad call in the eighth game.
Harper was leading, 4-3, and the game tied, 30-30, when Capriati appeared to hit a ball long. Harper watched the ball bounce and didn't bother to return it.
But the call went against her and instead of Harper having break point, Capriati went ahead, 40-30. Capriati held serve on the next point and won 16 of the next 17 points to finish off the opening set and grab a 2-0 lead in the second.
"You get bad calls all the time," said Harper, ranked 73rd in the world, 63 slots below Capriati. "That happened not to be a good time for me. I thought about it for too many points after that.
Jennifer Capriati (2), Saddlebrook, Fla., def. Peanut Louie-Harper San Francisco, 6-4, 6-4. Monica Seles, Yugoslavia, def. Kathy Rinaldi, Amelia Island, Fla., 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.
Jessica Emmons, Phoenix, and Audra Keller, Memphis, Tenn. (2), def. Joanne Russell, Naples, Fla., and Andrea Leand, Baltimore, 6-3, 6-4.
Virginia Slims Hall of Fame
NEWPORT, R.I. -- Pam Shriver fell to Rosalyn Fairbank-Nideffer in the semifinals of the exhibition tournament, as Fairbank-Nideffer ended her seven-match losing skid, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Top-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez breezed past third-seeded Marianne Werdel, 6-3, 6-1, in the other semifinal at the Newport Casino.
Fairbank-Nideffer had lost nine of 10 career meetings against No. 2 seed Shriver of Lutherville, Md., including a three-set loss on the Casino's grass courts in 1989. The South African native seemed headed for another defeat, but rebounded after the first set to break Shriver's serve five times in the next two sets.
"I missed a lot of easy balls in the first set," Fairbank-Nideffer said. "I started returning better and I was concentrating on trying to keep the ball low. I didn't make as many errors."
Fairbank-Nideffer is 2-0 against Fernandez, with both wins on grass. The last time the two met was in 1989, when Fairbank-Nideffer defeated Fernandez 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 at Wimbledon.
Rosalyn Fairbank-Nideffer (4), San Diego, def. Pam Shriver (2), Lutherville, Md., 3-6, 6-3, 6-1; Mary Joe Fernandez (1), Miami, def. Marianne Werdel (3), Bakersfield, Calif., 6-3, 6-1.
Patty Fendick, Sacramento, Calif., and Marianne Werdel (2), Bakersfield, Calif., def. Jennifer Lane, Sherborn, Mass., and Pam Piorkowski, Glastonbury, Conn., 6-2, 6-3.
ATP Mercedes Cup
STUTTGART, Germany -- Wimbledon champion Michael Stich Germany and Argentina's Alberto Mancini used different styles to reach today's final.
The top-seeded Stich easily beat Francisco Clavet of Spain, 6-4, 6-3, while Mancini needed just under two hours to oust Lars Koslowski of Germany, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
"Conditions were optimal today," said Stich, who moved up to No. 3 in the ATP computer world rankings. "Tennis was fun
again. I think I can be satisfied."
Michael Stich (1), Germany, def. Francisco Clavet, Spain, 6-4, 6-2; Alberto Mancini, Argentina, def. Lars Koslowski, Germany, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
San Marino Open
SAN MARINO -- Second-seeded Katia Piccolini defeated Silvia Farina, 6-2, 6-3, to win the all-Italian final of the $75,000 women's tournament.
Piccolini, who had to struggle to defeat Eugenia Manikova of the Soviet Union in the semifinals, easily beat Farina to earn the $13,500 first prize. Farina won $6,700.