Seles Stutters Past Sugiyama

Fourth seeded Monica Seles advanced to the fourth round after losing a set for the first time in nine matches to the Japanese player Ai Sugiyama. Seles won 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in 97 minutes on No.1 Court.

Sugiyama’s record against Seles was so uninspiring that an upset looked unlikely against the American, who was runner-up to Steffi Graf in the Wimbledon final in 1992.

But Sugiyama settled more quickly to the demands of the third round match and after threatening to break serve in the first game actually did so in the third. Seles broke back for 3-3 but Sugiyama gained a second break to lead 4-3 and held on to that to take the first set in 41 minutes.

Seles, who had beaten Sugiyama in Indian Wells for the loss of only one game earlier this year, now began to repair the damage and jumped into a 5-0 lead in the second set before losing a game. Seles missed three set points at 5-1 but then held her own serve to love to level the match.

For the first four games of the final set, Sugiyama stayed in the hunt but she lost her serve in the fifth game and again in the seventh to fall behind 5-2.

Then Seles, serving for the match, lost her serve to love and had to wait for her next service game to win through with a backhand on her first match point.

“I knew that she [Sugiyama] would be a tough opponent today,” Seles said. “I had a good wake-up call when I lost that first set. It made me just really play and be more focused.”