MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Monica Seles fought off six match points to beat Serena Williams 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (2) in the estyle.com Classic quarterfinals Friday.
Williams, the two-time defending champion ranked eighth in the world, saw her 12-match tournament winning streak end before a rowdy sellout crowd of 4,324 at Manhattan Country Club.
I definitely should have closed it out on each chance,'' Williams said.I guess you could say I got a little tight.”
The victory was Seles’ third over a top-10 player in two weeks and her first in four career meetings with Williams. She is playing her third week in a row after being idle most of the year with a foot injury.
That was unbelievable,'' Seles said.The crowd was so into it. Very rarely do you feel the electricity like that.”
Seles trailed 5-3, 40-love in the third set when Williams squandered three match points and double-faulted for deuce. Williams made two consecutive backhand errors and Seles broke to trail 5-4.
Seles held for 5-5, then Williams served a love game, punctuated by a 100-mph ace, for a 6-5 lead as the fans roared.
It was almost like a New York crowd,'' Williams said.There was a lot of cheers.”
Seles quickly trailed love-40 to give Williams her fourth match point. But Williams sailed a forehand long, then Seles hit a powerful backhand and Williams missed another backhand for deuce. Two backhand errors by Williams forced the tiebreaker.
I made a ton of errors,'' Williams said.I just made the wrong shots. I got crazy. I should definitely be in the semifinals, but I didn’t do the right thing.”
Williams evened the tiebreaker 2-2 with a crosscourt forehand volley winner before Seles won the final five points and the match.
“I was going a point at a time because anything can happen,” said Seles, who trailed love-40 both games in which she had match points against her.
Seles, the sixth seed, advanced to a semifinal against top-seeded Martina Hingis, whom she beat in last week’s Acura Classic semifinals. Earlier, Seles had beaten second-ranked Jennifer Capriati.
She played great and she stayed focused until the match was over,'' Williams said.At the end it all boils down to mental work. She always fights to the last ball. You can learn from that.”
Hingis defeated No. 12 Amy Frazier 6-2, 6-3 in 69 minutes.
I didn't play the best game today, but it was good enough against Amy,'' Hingis said.I’ll have to step it up tomorrow if I want to have a chance.”
Second-seeded Lindsay Davenport will play fifth-seeded Nathalie Tauziat of France in the other semifinal. Tauziat upset No. 3 seed Kim Clijsters of Belgium 7-6 (3), 6-3.
Hingis has been bothered by a recurring stress reaction to her left foot since last week’s Acura Classic in Carlsbad. She withdrew from next week’s tournament in Toronto, and once she’s done in California she plans to rest until the U.S. Open begins Aug. 27.
Even today I was very cautious with my foot,'' she said.It’s not getting worse, it’s just like the same pain. Something is going on there. Hopefully it’s going to be fine until the U.S. Open, that’s what I’m most worried about.”
Davenport struggled for the second time in three matches before beating seventh-seed Elena Dementieva of Russia 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. She will play Tauziat in Saturday’s other semifinal.
It was one of those days where I got through and maybe I shouldn't have,'' she said.I felt like I was missing balls for no reason, not going for winners. I was really fed up with how I was giving her the match.”
Davenport also withdrew from Toronto, citing left wrist tendinitis aggravated in a semifinal loss to Venus Williams last week.
It's getting more tender as the week goes on,'' she said.It’s been my Achilles’ heel since 1996 as far as injuries go. It’s not anything I need a MRI for.”
Davenport also rolled her right ankle in the final game against Dementieva, but was pronounced fit by a WTA Tour trainer.
“I was so spastic. I kind of tripped,” she said, laughing.
Not funny is Davenport’s continued erratic play, including hitting groundstrokes well beyond the lines. After being broken at 1-1 in the third set, she dropped and kicked her racket in frustration.
I got up a break and then got broken. That's pretty bad,'' she said.I feel like mentally and physically I’m going down and I cannot afford that going into the U.S. Open.”
Clijsters, who beat Davenport for her first title this year two weeks ago in Stanford, had nine double faults against the 33-year-old Tauziat.
“I played one of my best matches. She didn’t serve well. Maybe she was afraid of my return,” said Tauziat, who plans to retire at year’s end.
“I still enjoy playing, what bothers me is not being able to enjoy the other parts in my life. I want to enjoy something else. I gave 15 years to tennis, that’s enough.”