'I'm expected to win' With Seles out, spotlight falls on Sanchez Vicario

August 21, 1991|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

WASHINGTON -- Women's tennis is deep. So deep. That's what women's tennis players keep saying. And yet upsets, those wonderful unexpected uprisings from the neighborhood of the lower rankings, are rarer than a cool night in August.

Last night, one of those cool breezes blew through the Fitzgerald Tennis Center, but it wasn't enough to inspire overachievement.

No. 1 seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario needed just 67 minutes to dispose of Regina Rajchrtova, 6-4, 6-4, in the Virginia Slims of Washington.

It was a perfect demonstration of the difference between a player ranked fourth in the world and one ranked 52nd. Consistency, concentration and discipline were on the short list. And although Sanchez Vicario again said women's tennis is deeper than ever, this match -- and overall tournament field -- is enough to make her wish for the elusive Monica Seles.

It might seem a strange wish, given Seles had just ousted Sanchez Vicario in the semifinals in Los Angeles last weekend, ++ 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4, but it was one the scant crowd of perhaps a thousand who sat through last night's cakewalk might have shared.

"It would be much more interesting if Monica was here," said Sanchez Vicario, 19. "When they told me she had pulled out and that I would be the No. 1 seed, I was disappointed."

Tomorrow, in the quarterfinals, Sanchez Vicario will face the winner of tonight's match between Zina Garrison and Magdalena Maleeva.

To this point in the season, Sanchez Vicario has been on something of a roll. She has reached the semifinals six times and the finals four times, including the French Open, where, again, she was beaten by Seles.

"I want to be ready for the Open next week, that's why I'm here," Sanchez Vicario said. "In this tournament, with Monica not here, I know there is a difference. I know the top ranked players are stronger and play better on important points.

"But that doesn't mean I can relax. There are other players here who want to win. You must play your best in each match, or run the risk of not playing another match."

Last night, however, there were moments when Sanchez Vicario looked vulnerable. But the depth of women's tennis apparently doesn't reach to the 52nd place on the chart.

"Regina hits hard and she can hit well," Sanchez Vicario said. "But the main problem I had was adjusting to the lights."

Sanchez Vicario broke Rajchrtova twice in each of the two sets, while being broken once herself.

"I am expected to win," Sanchez Vicario said. "To me, that is not pressure. I'm just going to play the way I've been playing. I'm happy with the way I'm playing. It would be better with Monica, but this tournament will be good practice for me."

She said she will not experiment with her game here, simply sharpen her strokes, hit her first serve harder and keep pressure on the opposition.

"So far, the season has been good," she said. "But I want to win. I think I am ready to win, both here and at the Open."

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