Hoping to regain the form that brought her to the Roland Garros final in 1998, No. 3 seed Monica Seles blasted her way into the second round with a one-hour, four-minute 6-2, 6-4 demolition of China’s Fang Li.
Seles, who reached the final here last year and is a three-time Roland Garros champion, put on a devastating display of power tennis, playing well inside the baseline and crushing winners off both wings. The 25-year-old American recently won her first clay court title in seven years at Amelia Island, but has played sparingly this year, recently suffering bronchitis and an ear infection that had her ingesting anti-biotics for a month.
“I was really anxious to go out and play the match because it’s my first on red clay,” said Seles, who rang up 22 winners. “I was little nervous coming into the French not having played anything. I’m pretty pleased with the way I played.”
Seles, who lost a tight three-set final to Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario last year, remains a perfectionist, saying that she hasn’t been satisfied with her play in a Grand Slam in six years.
“Almost never,’ said Seles. “I felt like I was playing the best at the ’92 French Open and ’93 Australian Open. I was at a very good place that time.”
But the nine-time Grand Slam champion, who has won only one major since her 1995 comeback to the tour after taking two-and-a-half years off to recover from her stabbing, isn’t particularly pleased with her play the last four years.
“Not really,” she said. “I had a couple chances to do well at the U.S. Open in ’95 and ’96, but mentally I couldn’t overcome a couple things.”