Kathy Rinaldi almost spoiled Monica Seles' much publicized return to tennis after skipping Wimbledon because of shin splints and a stress fracture in her left leg.
Rinaldi, the 72nd-ranked woman, extended Seles to three sets Saturday night in the Pathmark tournament at Mahwah, N.J., before losing, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1, to the world's top-ranked player.
"The leg is fine, but you can see I am not in the form I want to be in," said Seles, who after the match announced she would not represent Yugoslavia in the Federation Cup in England, starting Monday.
"In the second set, I had a few bad steps," she said. "The leg was tired. I have to be careful."
The victory put Seles into today's final against Jennifer Capriati, who defeated Peanut Louie Harper, 6-4, 6-4.
"I've played Jennifer a lot and we always put on a good show," said Seles, who had not lost a set in her first two matches here.
Seles, 17, looked as if she would advance in straight sets as had the 15-year-old Capriati. But Rinaldi changed those plans in the second set, running down every Seles shot and causing her to make several unforced errors.
Defending champion and top seed Andre Agassi needed only 66 minutes to defeat sixth-seeded Jaime Yzaga of Peru, 6-3, 6-2, and advance to the final of a $600,000 tournament at Washington, D.C.
Agassi will face 12th-seeded Petr Korda of Czechoslovakia in today's final. Korda advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Markus Zoecke of Germany.
Top-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez easily defeated third-seeded Marianne Werdel, 6-3, 6-1, to advance to the final of the Virginia Slims Hall of Fame Invitational at Newport, R.I.
Fernandez will face fourth-seeded Rosalyn Fairbank-Nideffer of South Africa, who ended her seven-match losing streak to Pam Shriver, beating the second-seeded player, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Wimbledon champion Michael Stich of Germany and Argentina's Alberto Mancini used different styles to reach the finals of a $1-million ATP tournament at Stuttgart, Germany.
The top-seeded Stich easily beat Francisco Clavet of Spain, 6-4, 6-3, but Mancini needed just under two hours to oust Lars Koslowski of Germany, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Stich dominated Clavet with passing shots and drop volleys. Mancini overpowered Koslowski after dropping the first set.