PARIS (Reuters) – Monica Seles breezed past Austria’s Barbara Schett 6-2 6-3 in the first round of the Paris Open indoor tournament on Wednesday, despite feeling fatigued after a punishing start to the year.
“I’m really spaced out right now. I can’t believe I committed to this (playing) schedule,” the fifth-seeded American said afterwards.
Seles reached the semifinals at last month’s Australian Open, where she lost to Martina Hingis in three sets, and then lost to the same player last week in the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
“I’ve been playing well but, at the same time, I was disappointed at losing those close matches,” she said.
The Yugoslavia-born American seemed both confident and aggressive in her clash with Schett, ranked 20th in the world.
She repeatedly surprised her opponent with searing returns and powerful shots from the baseline but said afterwards the match had been closer than it looked.
“I was trying to stay really focused. Inside, it was really different,” said the former world number one.
“As a professional, you try to do your best every time you step out on to the court and to block everything else out.”
“I’m going to be playing a lot of tournaments this year…I’m trying to get my ranking a little bit higher.”
Seles is currently ranked 10th in the world.
She was not prepared to comment on her last appearance at the Paris Open indoor tournament, in 1993, when she was runner-up to Martina Navratilova after a hard-fought three-set final.
“Yes, it’s been a long 10 years,” she said.
Seles, ranked number one in the world in 1993, was sidelined from the game for two years after being stabbed in the back by a crazed Steffi Graf fan in Hamburg on April 30.