TOKYO (TICKER) — American Serena Williams cruised into the final of the $535,000 Princess Cup tennis tournament today, but compatriot Monica Seles was forced to withdraw with an injury.
Williams, the second seed, dispatched unheralded Daja Bedanova of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-4, in today’s first semifinals.
Seles, the No. 1 seed and five-time champion, lost the first set, 6-4, to fourth-seeded Julie Halard-Decugis of France and trailed in the second, 3-4, before being forced to retire from the match with inflammation of the tendons in the front of the both feet.
Seles, who had never lost to Halard-Decugis in five previous matches, will receive treatment in Europe and intends to play at the Generali Ladies Linz tournament in Austria in two weeks.
“The pain in my feet started in the second game,” said Seles, who came into this event having won the bronze medal in last week’s Olympic Games in Sydney. “It was very painful and difficult for me to move. I’ve played so much tennis over the past couple of months, at the U.S. Open, the Olympics, and here in Japan. The courts here are totally different than in Sydney and the U.S. Open.
“I’m very disappointed to not win the match, but I’ve finally learned to put my health first. The most important thing for me now is to get healthy. My main focus is to get rid of the pain.”
Williams won the women’s doubles gold medal with her sister Venus at the Sydney Games. Boasting a 36-8 record, she reached her fifth final of the year and is aiming for her third title. She captured the Faber Grand Prix in Hannover, Germany in February and notched her seventh career title at Los Angeles in August.
Bedanova already has exceeded her expected reach in this event. The 17-year-old came in ranked 87th in the world but toppled seeded players Amelie Mauresmo and Amy Frazier in three sets each.
Looking for her 12th career title, Halard-Decugis is 0-3 lifetime against Williams.
First prize is $87,000.