Monica Seles barely raised a sweat on her way to a solid first round drubbing of Germany’s Barbara Rittner 6/1, 6/1 at the USTA National Tennis Center Tuesday. Seles did nothing short of annihilate the 26year-old German in a swift 51 minutes, grunting her way through to the second round in a match that would sadly fail to rate a mention in the ‘spectator friendly’ stakes.
The two-time US Open champion was never extended in the primarily baseline dual, pounding down 25 winners during the encounter and exposing Rittner’s lack of speed and meek groundstrokes. Rittner, a women’s tour stalwart, who has hovered in the top 100 for the last eight years, was overwhelmed by the 9-time Grand Slam champion, appearing sluggish and disheartened by the ‘fast-motion-like’ Seles onslaught. Unable to press the ‘pause’ button, the German’s first serve fell to pieces and she hit 20 unforced errors in what became a very lackluster performance.
“Today was kind of nice out there. It wasn’t very hard-hitting, the court was playing so fast, and it just seems very different from previous years,” said the former No. 1, who comes into this year’s Open slightly short on match practice.
The 25-year-old American has entered only five events since the French Open in early June, where she bowed out in the semi final to eventual champion Steffi Graf. She played just two lead-up events before the US Open – New Haven (last week where she lost to Venus Williams) and the Canadian Open, where she was a finalist, relinquishing her 4-year stranglehold on the singles trophy to Martina Hingis.
“I’m really happy with my preparation for the Open. I’ve lost to two players who are probably the best on the circuit.”
Seles’ magnificent career has spanned 44 singles titles, albeit only one of those coming this year. American tennis fans’ love affair with the personable left-hander began 10 years ago, when the then 15-year-old reached the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.
Since then, Seles has appeared nine times here, reaching four finals and proving a popular winner in 1991 and 1992.
“This year I didn’t prepare especially for the Open. I’m just thankful to have been able to get in a few good matches. Right now I’m loving my tennis, the practising and everything else that comes with it,” said the fourth seed.
Seles meets either qualifier Maria Alejandra Vento or Italian Silvia Farina in the next round and is on track for a semi final showdown with No7 seed Venus Williams.