Seles wins unusual U.S. Open encounter

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Double champion and twice runner-up Monica Seles moved swiftly into the third round of the U.S. Open with a 6-1 6-4 victory in what she called an “unusual” match against qualifier Evgenia Koulikovskaya Wednesday.

The seventh-seeded Seles took up just 47 minutes of the night program at Arthur Ashe Stadium as she belted 19 winners compared to just eight for the Russian with no backhand.

Still, the 1991 and 1992 Open champion was not completely satisfied with her performance.

“Tonight I was not at a level I’d want to be against a top player but hopefully I’ll pull it together,” she said.

The encounter, while lacking any drama, presented an interesting contrast in the style of the two left-handers.

While Seles blasts away with a two-handed stroke from both wings, Koulikovskaya switches her racket from hand to hand to hit one-handed forehands from both sides.

It was very unusual. It was tough to read which way she was going to go,'' Seles said.It’s always tough when you’ve never seen your opponent play.”


Seles, owner of nine career Grand Slam titles, will face another unknown quantity in the third round. She next meets qualifier Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, who beat Australian Rachel McQuillan 6-1 7-5.

The former world number one was one of four former women’s singles champions to clear the second hurdle at the Open on Wednesday, joining Lindsay Davenport , Martina Hingis and Serena Williams in the third round.

Defending champion Venus Williams plays her second-round match Thursday.

Seles said she was thrilled to finally be fit after spending five months sidelined by a foot injury earlier this year.

“I feel great. I was really happy that I got to play this Grand Slam because I had to pull out of the French and Wimbledon , which was difficult,” she said.

“Coming in I had a good hardcourt season, but most important is that I’m healthy. But I’m still trying to take it one match at a time,” she said.

Seles failed to win a title on the hardcourts this American summer but posted impressive wins over Hingis, Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Justine Henin to stamp herself as a serious title threat after falling in the quarter-finals the past four years.

“Each time you beat all those players it’s a tremendous help to your confidence,” she said.