Coming back from a 5-0 deficit in the first set, three-time Roland Garros champ Monica Seles stepped on the gas and ran over Spaniard Angeles Montolio 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0 to gain the second round on Tuesday.
On a cold and rainy day in Paris, the quick Montolio jumped out to a 5-0 lead as Seles couldn’t get her body moving and framed shot after shot wide. But angry with her desultory play, Seles slapped her feet with her racket and began to find the range with her thunderous groundstrokes and fought her way back into the set, crushing Montolio’s high looping shots and burying her second serves.
However, Montolio regained her nerve in the tiebreaker, running down Seles’ numerous blasts, counterpunching effectively and not allowing the American to dictate play.
The two fought tooth and nail in the second set when they were forced to break for rain with Montolio serving at 3-3, 40-30.
But when they returned to court, Seles immediately broke Montolio to 4-3 when she whipped a backhand return of serve that the Spaniard couldn’t handle. Seles then went on an amazing run, winning 38 of the next 53 points by completely controlling the center of the court with her blistering two-handed attack.
After losing the second set, Montolio quickly grew depressed and wasn’t able to claw her way back into the contest.
The 26-year-old Montolio came into Roland Garros in a slump. After winning her third career title at Porto in April, she lost in the first round of four other clay court tournaments.
Seles came into the tournament fresh off her title run in Madrid. Although she started the year with a bang by upsetting Venus Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and winning Doha, she hasn’t been able to make a major breakthrough since then, losing a heartbreaker semifinal to Jennifer Capriati in Miami and then catching a stomach virus prior to Rome.
While Seles has had more than her fair share of major success in Paris, she hasn’t made a major push since 1998, when she reached the final and was stunned by Spanish whirlwind Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. She didn’t compete here last year due to a right foot stress fracture.
Seles will play the winner of the Petra Mandula-Brie Rippner match.