Seles wins women's Open title Crushes Sanchez to retain crown U.S. OPEN

September 13, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- This time, there was no long speech thanking everyone from her parents to her fans to Donald Trump.

This time, there were no epic matches against other millionaire teen-agers, no rumors about her whereabouts or physical condition, no embarrassing photographs plastered on the front pages of the supermarket tabloids.

Monica Seles came to New York to win, period.

The best player in women's tennis completed her perfect run at the U.S. Open yesterday, repeating as champion by overwhelming Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-3, 6-3.

"It feels great to win two in a row," Seles said.

The 90-minute final was about as dramatic as novocaine. There wasn't one memorable exchange between the baseliners who screamed and grunted on nearly every shot. After winning the first five games in 19 minutes, there wasn't even a moment where Seles was in danger of losing a set, let alone the match.

Fact is, the tensest moments of all occurred on championship point. Five times through two games Seles tried and failed to put away Sanchez Vicario. Finally, on the sixth championship point, Seles bashed a backhand cross-court and jogged off with another title.

Seles, 18, is the youngest player ever to win seven Grand Slam singles championships.

And for a change, Seles is being lauded for her tennis, not criticized for her image. A year ago, when she came to the Open as the Madonna of Tennis, she had to beat Jennifer Capriati in a grueling semifinal. And then, after ousting Martina Navratilova in the final, she turned the crowd against her, thanking her good friend Trump.

"I don't think people believed all the stories that were written about me," Seles said. "But I guess when you become No. 1, it's always a little tougher. The relationships are different with the crowd and with the other players. But I feel that things are a lot better. People know me now. Before, they just heard about me."

Seles' biggest foe wasn't an opponent, it was her fragile health. An upper respiratory infection slowed her down somewhat in her two previous matches. She was running a temperature and her voice was all but silenced by laryngitis.

But yesterday, she was just fine. That was the bad news for Sanchez Vicario, a return specialist who won the French Open in 1989 at age 17.

Against Seles, Sanchez Vicario could do little but act as a hitting partner.

"She played better than me," Sanchez Vicario said.

Seles was also tougher when it came to dealing with the elements surrounding Super Saturday at the Open. Since the women's final was sandwiched between the two men's semifinals, Sanchez Vicario and Seles had to wait, and wait, and wait some more as Stefan Edberg needed five sets and 5 hours, 26 minutes to put away Michael Chang.

"I was ready to play at 1 o'clock," Sanchez Vicario said. "And I was nervous."

The women's finalists didn't hit the court until after 5:30, and by then, Sanchez Vicario was terrified.

"The wait affected me," she said. "But that was not the reason I played like this."

The reason, of course, was Seles. A lot was made about how she lost in three straight finals before the Open, about how she stopped grunting and absorbed an upset defeat against Steffi Graf at Wimbledon.

"There wasn't much I could do about Graf," Seles said.

But nobody had an answer for Seles in New York. No one even got close to taking a set off her. Some tried to attack her backhand. Others tried to chip and charge. Didn't matter.

"I knew what I had to do, but I did it too fast and too quick," Sanchez Vicario said. "She made good groundstrokes. She played well."

And Seles played under pressure. She has reached that early stage of her career when she is perceived as nearly unbeatable. Navratilova was once that way. So was Chris Evert and Graf. Eventually, the field catches up and catches on.

But not yet. Seles emerged as the No. 1 player a year ago by winning the Open, and she kept her crown with another Open victory.

Still, she expects a fight to stay on top. She looks at Navratilova and Graf losing early in this Open and says, "one day that will happen to me."

Yet at 18, these are her better days. She took an Open, and made it her own, winning easily, winning quietly.

"When you become No. 1," she said, "everything you do becomes hard."

Seles vs. Sanchez Vicario

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...Sanchez

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . ..Seles.... .. .Vicario

First serve pct... .. .. .. .79.. .. .. .. .. .85

Aces.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..1.. .. .. .. .. ..1

Double faults.. .. .. .. .. ..0.. .. .. .. .. ..3

Winners.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .17.. .. .. .. .. .18

Unforced errors.. .. .. .. ..23.. .. .. .. .. .43

Total points.. .. .. .. .. ..77.. .. .. .. .. .60

Seles' Slams

1990 French Open -- Defeated Steffi Graf, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.

1991 Australian Open -- Defeated Jana Novotna, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.

1991 French Open -- Defeated Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-3, 6-4.

1991 U.S. Open -- Defeated Martina Navratilova, 7-6 (7-1), 6-1.

1992 Australian Open -- Defeated Mary Joe Fernandez, 6-2, 6-3.

1992 French Open -- Defeated Steffi Graf, 6-2, 3-6, 10-8.

1992 U.S. Open -- Defeated Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-3, 6-3.

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