SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — If nothing else, Monica Seles’ nerves are as strong as ever.
The former top-ranked player weathered her second straight high-intensity set to beat eighth-seeded Barbara Schett 7-6 (9), 6-1 Thursday and advance to the quarterfinals of the State Farm Women’s Tennis Classic.
“At the end, it comes down to who’s better and who performs better under a tight bit of pressure, but still there’s an awful lot of luck involved,” said Seles who, after a six-month layoff because of a stress fracture in her foot, won her 45th career singles title last week.
Seles is unseeded in a WTA event for the first time since 1989 because her victory Sunday in Oklahoma City, which lifted her to No. 9 in the world, was too late to affect the seeding in Scottsdale.
She battled through four set points Wednesday before winning the second set 7-6 (7) and knocking Silvija Talaja out of the first round. The next day, she led 5-2 in the first set before Schett won four of the next five games to force a tiebreaker.
This time, Seles twice had Schett, Austria’s highest-ranked player (No. 13), within a point of elimination only to watch her tie it at 7 and 8.
Schett had a 9-8 lead the only time Seles faced set point, and Seles tied it for the last time with a forehand winner. Two points later, she ended the set with a service winner to Schett’s forehand.
“I have big trouble with her serve,” said Schett, winless in five matches with Seles. “I don’t really like her serve. I just don’t like left-hand serves. It’s good that there’s not too many left-handers on the tour.”
The second set lasted only 21 minutes as Seles broke the frustrated Schett in the first, third and seventh games.
“When I felt the air go out of her was at 3-love,” Seles said. “I think she had those two breaks, I knew then.”