Showing as much focus and resilience as she has all year, three-time Roland Garros champ Monica Seles shattered the dreams of Slovakian upstart Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 7-5 to gain the quarterfinals on Sunday.
In grinding down a supremely talented teenager who many had expected to beat her, the veteran Seles withstood Hantuchova’s withering pace with a straight ahead, hard-hitting attack. The 28-year-old Seles was the more consistent player of the day, serving efficiently, returning with authority and gamely sprinting sideline to sideline to chase down her more athletic foe’s dipping shots. Moreover, the normally conservative Seles wasn’t afraid to concoct a few new recipes herself, mixing in a few gorgeous drop shots at key moments.
Seles finished the day with 33 unforced errors to 52 from her foe.
Up a break in both sets, Indian Wells titlist Hantuchova had numerous opportunities, but failed to covert when it mattered most. For every laser-like forehand down the line, Hantuchova would bury a big groundstroke into the net.
Then 18-year old Slovak was broken to 4-2 in the second set when Seles whacked a return that she couldn’t handle. But Hantuchova broke right back, gaining a break point with a striking short backhand crosscourt and breaking her foe when Seles couldn’t scoop up a hard-driving backhand return.
Hantuchova fought off a match point at 4-5 with a big forehand crosscourt and swing volley winner. At 5-6, Hantuchova held off another match point with a huge crosscourt backhand, but on the next match point, Seles stabbed back a return and Hantuchova parked a backhand wide.
Seles will play the winner of the Venus Williams-Chanda Rubin match.