Unforced errors cost Seles in loss to Hingis

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Monica Seles didn’t give up after trailing 1-5 in the third set against Martina Hingis.

After some error-filled play, Seles started hitting winners from the baseline, closing the gap to 4-5. The crowd at the Australian Open semifinal roared its approval at the comeback.

But a relieved Hingis served out the match Thursday when Seles hit a forehand wide as she approached the net. It was one of 40 unforced errors by Seles, four times as many as the Swiss, who won 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

I think Martina was just more consistent through the match,'' said Seles, who has won the Australian Grand Slam title four times.I made too many unforced errors at key times.

“Whenever I had my chances, I kind of lost them. Against her, you can’t afford to do that.”

But the eighth-seeded Seles also dominated the match at times, hitting 46 winners compared to Hingis’ 32.

“She’s a very tough player, and I’m very happy to have beaten her,” said the third-seeded Hingis, who advanced to her sixth straight Australian Open final.

Seles, winner of nine Grand Slam events, was focused against Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, winning in three sets in her first victory over the defending Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion in seven tries.

The Yugoslavia-born Seles, who became a U.S. citizen in 1994, moved back to the top of women’s tennis after a two-year layoff following her 1993 stabbing by a deranged fan of rival Steffi Graf. But she has not dominated the game the way she did before the attack.

However, Seles said she had been playing and practicing consistently since recovering from a right foot injury that forced her to withdraw from Wimbledon last year.

“As long as I can cut down my unforced errors, I can have good wins,” said the 28-year-old Seles.

Hingis’ victory snapped Seles’ 18-match winning streak, and the Swiss star now holds a 13-4 record against the American. However, Seles won their previous two meetings, both in California last August.