NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sixth seed Monica Seles won the battle of former U.S. Open champions on Tuesday, easing past Martina Hingis 6-4 6-2 and into the quarter-finals of the season’s final grand slam.
Advancing to final eight for the ninth time in 12 visits to the Open, Seles will next meet twice defending champion Venus Williams.
“You’ve got to just play your game against Venus,” said Seles, looking forward to her match with the world number two.
“Venus has a fantastic serve and great movement, those are her strengths.
“But I’ve got to play her just the same as anyone else.
“The key is serves. Her serve is obviously powerful and she’ll hold her games easier than I will.”
For 1997 champion Hingis, it was her earliest exit since her first appearance at Flushing Meadow as a fresh-faced 14-year-old prodigy in 1995.
Having clashed 19 times, Hingis winning 15, the pair stepped on to a sun-kissed Arthur Ashe stadium court looking to turn around campaigns interrupted by injuries.
Winner at Flushing Meadows in 1991 and 1992, Seles got the match off to a bright start by breaking Hingis at the first opportunity.
Playing in just her third event since returning to the Tour following ankle surgery, Hingis would quickly get back on serve with a break to go 2-2 but the Swiss could not find any rhythm and her shots lacked confidence and conviction.
Seles, grunting and firing away from the baseline, stepped up the pressure in the second set as Hingis unraveled with back-to-back breaks to fall behind 5-2.
But ninth seed Hingis would not surrender quietly and Seles, who has played in just one Tour event since Wimbledon because of foot problems, needed five match points before finally finishing off the Swiss in exactly one hour.
At her post-match press conference, Seles once again spent much of her time denying reports that this was her final U.S. Open and would retire next season.
“It’s been front page news that I’m retiring but I still enjoy playing tennis, I’m still playing at a very high level so I don’t know where this is coming from,” said the nine-times grand slams winner.
“Let us play as long as we want to play and when we’re tired of the traveling, the competition we’ll retire.
“The day I don’t want to put in effort — and it’s very life and death right now — I’ll say this is it.