NEW YORK – Very little went Monica Seles’ way for the better part of two sets. Then, suddenly, she was in control of the match.
Supported warmly by fans on a cold, damp night, the American Seles regrouped after being two points from defeat and reached the U.S. Open’s third round by beating Barbara Schwartz of Austria 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 Thursday.
“It’s a great feeling at this stage of my career,” said the sixth-seeded Seles, who won the U.S. Open in 1991 and 1992. “The crowd pulled me through tonight’s match, big time. I came out very flat. The conditions were tough. She is a tough opponent to play. She doesn’t give you any rhythm.”
She had 25 unforced errors to 18 winners in the first two sets. The ratio was six errors to 14 winners in the third.
Schwartz needed just two points to close out the match at 5-5 in the tiebreaker.
“She was not fully in the game at the moment. I was playing maybe the best tennis I can play,” said Schwartz, who beat Seles in straight sets in a Fed Cup match in April. In the latter stages of the match, the Austrian said, “She tried more, she was hitting harder.”
Seles owns nine Grand Slam tournament titles, a total which very likely would have been higher had she not been off the tour for more than two years after being stabbed during a match in Germany in 1993.
Seles hasn’t been to a major final since the 1998 French Open, but she doesn’t have definitive ideas about how much longer she’ll play.
“My life is very complicated even right now today, sitting here. I just really love the game. It’s so simple for me. As a little girl, that’s why I started,” Seles said.
How long will she stay on tour?
“As long as I can compete professionally, and I’m happy at that level, injury-free,” she said.