Seles holds off Rubin, will meet Huber

January 25, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Flirting with defeat, Monica Seles displayed her utter refusal to lose today as she overcame a gutsy effort by Chanda Rubin to reach the Australian Open final and go for her fourth championship.

On the men's side, Andre Agassi finished what he started Tuesday, defeating Jim Courier, 6-7 (7-9), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, to earn a spot in the semifinals against Michael Chang. The win also guaranteed that next week Agassi will regain the No. 1 ranking that he relinquished to Pete Sampras in November.

In the other men's semifinal, fourth-seeded Boris Becker of Germany goes against the surprise of the tournament, the unseeded Australian Mark Woodforde.

Seles trailed 2-5 in the third set, then took over with sheer resolve to win five straight games and beat Rubin, 6-7 (7-2), 6-1, 7-5, in a rain-interrupted match.

"Chanda's such a fighter, I'm very lucky to be in the finals," Seles said. "I just pulled it out by luck. I still can't believe it."

Rubin, a 19-year-old coming off an epic victory over Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, seemed to have Seles under her spell as she served for the match at 5-3. But the nerves that Rubin kept under control to that point suddenly appeared.

Rubin double-faulted for the fourth time, then drove an easy volley wide to fall behind 30-40. Rubin saved one break point but not the next.

After Seles held easily to 5-5, Rubin double-faulted once more to start the next game, and wound up losing at love with three straight errors.

Said Rubin: "I wanted to be the one taking charge, and putting her on the defensive, and I think I did that well."

Seles will face Anke Huber. Huber, a 21-year-old German who never has played in a Grand Slam final, beat Amanda Coetzer, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Men's singles, quarterfinals

Andre Agassi (2), Las Vegas, def. Jim Courier (8), Miami, 6-7 (7-9), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; Boris Becker (4), Germany, def. Yevgeny Kafelnikov (6), Russia, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9), 6-1; Mark Woodforde, Australia, def. Thomas Enqvist (7), Sweden, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Women's singles, quarterfinals

Amanda Coetzer (16), South Africa, def. Martina Hingis, Switzerland, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

Women's singles, semifinals

Monica Seles (1), Sarasota, Fla., def. Chanda Rubin (13), Lafayette, La., 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 7-5; Anke Huber (8), Germany, def. Amanda Coetzer (16), South Africa, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

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