OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Monica Seles, playing for the first time in nearly five months, eased past Francesca Lubiani of Italy 6-3, 6-3 Tuesday night in the second round of the $170,000 IGA SuperThrift Tennis Classic.
Seles, ranked 14th in the world and seeded No. 2, hadn’t played since losing to Lindsay Davenport in the final of the Princess Cup in Tokyo on Sept. 26. She has been recovering from a stress fracture in her right foot.
Seles was a late addition to this tournament, replacing two-time defending champion Venus Williams, who withdrew due to an injury. She got a first-round bye because she is the second seed of the tournament.
Seles, 26, is heavier than her prime playing weight but had little trouble with the 140th-ranked Lubiani, winning in 55 minutes.
Physically, I feel fine,'' Seles said.I don’t think I moved the best out there. I felt a little bit stiff. So hopefully as the matches go on, that will change.”
Lubiani lost her first two service games and didn’t recover in the first set. Seles closed out the set by breaking serve for a third time, finishing with a backhanded crosscourt return of a first serve.
The two stayed on serve through the second set before Seles broke Lubiani in the eighth game, winning the final four points after falling behind 30-love. She ended the match with her 10th ace of the night.
Seles said she only started hitting balls again about 10 days ago, and that most of her exercise came on a stationary bike.
It's not like I could do running and sprinting,'' she said.I was pretty sedentary on a bicycle, so finally to be able to move and run and absolutely feel no pain is just a great feeling.”
She said Lubiani, also a left-hander who prefers to stays on the baseline, was an ideal opponent for her return.
She's a player that makes you hit a lot of balls, she hits it pretty flat. She likes hard courts and supreme surfaces,'' Seles said.And also it was great that she played a lot of matches coming into today’s match. I knew that she would have the match toughness and I was just the opposite.”
The tournament’s top seed, Julie Halard-Decugis of France, plays her first-round match Wednesday.