Seles doesn't look injured in 48-minute victory

January 13, 1992|By ASOCIATED PRESS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Defending women's champion Monica Seles shrugged off a neck injury today to inflict punishment on Japan's Akiko Kijimuta in the Australian Open.

Pete Sampras, the No. 6 men's seed, wasn't as lucky. A sore shoulder forced him to withdraw from the Grand Slam event for the second straight year without playing a point.

Seles, making her first tournament appearance since November, rebounded from a first-game service break and barely broke a sweat in cruising past Japan's Akiko Kijimuta 6-2, 6-0 in 48 minutes.

Seles, the top-seeded woman, has been slowed by a neck strain since arriving in Australia a week ago. She wore a brace for a day before switching to a scarf for warmth.

Baltimore's Pam Shriver was another easy winner in the women's division. She handily beat Louise Stacey of Australia, 6-0, 6-1.

Defending men's king Boris Becker, wary of the strength-sapping heat of summer Down Under, wilted Jan Gunnarsson of Sweden with the steam of 25 aces in his first-round match.

While Becker smoldered on the court in 90-degree weather, one of his chief rivals, Sampras, got frozen out by injury again. The reigning ATP champion and 1990 U.S. Open winner left with an inflamed shoulder tendon that he aggravated last week in a tune-up event in Adelaide.

A year ago, Sampras withdrew from the Grand Slam event before the start because of shin splints.

The second-seeded Becker knocked off Gunnarsson 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 and seemed surprised when told he had 25 aces.

"That's good news," Becker said with a smile. "That's quite a lot, even for me. I couldn't have asked for a better match."

Top-seeded Stefan Edberg, appearing in a major tournament for the first time after a two-month layoff to recuperate from injuries, was nervous before his match. But he quickly picked up steam in ripping doubles partner Jeremy Bates of Britain 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

"I didn't feel good to start with," Edberg said. "It took me a couple of games to get into it."

The first day of the two-week Grand Slam event also marked the Australian pro debut of 15-year-old Jennifer Capriati, who delighted an enthusiastic center-court crowd with a display of strength in ousting Natalia Medvedeva 6-2, 6-0.

The fifth-seeded Floridian, cheered on every point she won, spent nearly as much time signing autographs after the match as the 44 minutes she needed to dispatch her overwhelmed opponent.

Armed with a devastating 100 mph serve that got her out of the only two jams she faced, Capriati blasted seven aces and ran off the last 10 games of the match.

American Jeff Tarango came up with one of the only first-round upsets, coming back from two sets down to oust ninth-seeded Petr Korda 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

His next match pairs him against fellow Stanford alumnus Patrick McEnroe, who beat Italy's Massimo Cierro 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. McEnroe reached the semifinals a year ago.

American Brad Gilbert, ranked 20th, was another early casualty, losing in five sets to No. 256 Lars Wahlgren of Sweden 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

Fifth-seeded Ivan Lendl, a two-time Australian Open champion, beat Australian Richard Fromberg 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the opening match on the 15,000-seat center court.

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