Seles shakes off scrappy Meski - Novotna falls in Australian Open
Sunday, January 19, 1992
Steve Wilstein, AP
MELBOURNE, Australia - Defending champion Monica Seles survived her first taste of pressure at the Australian Open, but her victim in last year's final, Jana Novotna, fell amid a flurry of double faults against teen-ager Anke Huber.
Seles overcame an unusually high number of errors, 52, and seemed surprised by the net-attacking strategy of Leila Meskhi. But Seles recovered her poise to break Meskhi three times in the final set and reach the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory.
"I wasn't going for my shots, I wasn't attacking, and I wasn't pumped up," Seles said. "I was serving pretty well in the first set and early in the second. It sort of went. I don't know what happened. It was pretty windy."
Seles said she'd have to put the match out of her mind when she plays Huber, a German who also is 18. Seles beat Huber in the quarters last year.
Novotna, who blew her first opportunity to beat Huber while serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, saw her chances vanish when she served with a 4-2 lead in the third set. Novotna double-faulted three times and lost the last five games to give Huber a 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory.
"I play better under pressure," Huber said. "The third set she was injured a bit. She had cramps."
Huber said there's no pressure on her in playing Seles, who beat her easily last year.
Seles served poorly in the second set as the 13th-seeded Meskhi sent forehands deep to Seles' backhand, then came in to put volleys away at the net. Meskhi broke Seles at love for a 5-3 lead in the second set, and again at 15-40 in the 10th game as Seles made four unforced errors.
It was the first set Seles lost in four matches, and she responded by bearing down harder, grunting louder and hitting deeper, more accurate groundstrokes.
Seles broke Meskhi in her first two service games of the third set for a 3-0 lead, holding her own service in between with her seventh ace on game-point. Though broken at love in the fourth game, Seles won the last three games of the match to close it out. Even the final game, though, did not come easily, as Seles double-faulted on her first match point at 40-30 and fought off a break point before winning at last on a backhand return long by Meskhi.
"I changed my tactics," Meskhi said. "I played more at the net today, and I think this surprised her. You have to move her around and come to the net if you want to beat her."
In another early match today, 15th-seeded David Wheaton lost to Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Also, Amy Frazier beat Dominique Monami of Belgium 6-3, 6-4.
No. 2 seed Jim Courier, who hit nearly every shot full tilt, reached the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 romp Saturday over Thomas Muster.
Michael Chang, who had an 11-2 record in five-set matches, including a grueling fourth-round showdown against Ivan Lendl en route to the 1989 French Open title, fell in a three-hour, see-saw battle to Richard Krajicek 6-4, 6-1, 5-7, 1-6, 6-3.
Two women's seeds, No. 2 Gabriela Sabatini and No. 5 Jennifer Capriati, together spent half as much time as Krajicek in advancing to the fourth round.
Sabatini was on court just over an hour as she beat Australia's Jenny Byrne 6-1, 6-0. Capriati needed only 35 minutes to overwhelm fellow American Katrina Adams 6-0, 6-0.
If they win their fourth-round matches, Capriati and Sabatini will meet in the quarterfinals.
No. 7 Mary Joe Fernandez, a finalist here two years ago, faltered in the second set against Australia's Rachel McQuillan before prevailing 6-1, 2-6, 6-1. She's the only seed remaining in her quarter of the draw following the loss Saturday by No. 15 Helena Sukova to Dominique Monami of Belgium 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
No. 11 Zina Garrison also advanced by ending Pam Shriver's chances with a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
A grumpy Michael Stich survived another sub-par outing to down Martin Jaite 6-0, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 and also advance to the round of 16.
MaliVai Washington, who beat No. 16 Goran Prpic in the second round, fell to Australia's Wally Masur 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
Perhaps the 14th-seeded Chang should have stopped by to watch Aaron Krickstein before taking center court against Krajicek. Krickstein, another long-match specialist, ran his five-set record to 22-6 by ousting Alexander Volkov 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 8-6 in four hours.