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Seles Wins Again, but Who's Counting? : Tennis: Top-ranked woman is 16-0 this season after defeating Martinez in Indian Wells final.

March 02, 1992|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

INDIAN WELLS — It's obviously tough work being Monica Seles. You go out on the court trying to protect your No. 1 ranking, you play a tournament, you win a tournament, then you stand back and let the coins fall where they may.

Seles also found time to establish her new minimum wage scale Sunday as she completed her week-long flambe of the field in the $350,000 Matrix Essentials/Evert Cup at Hyatt Grand Champions.

Let's see, five matches totaling five hours, worth $70,000. That works out to a very tidy $14,000 an hour. Or $233 a minute.

Lately, no one has been able to beat Seles--including Conchita Martinez, the latest to fall--no matter how hard they might try. So far in 1992, Seles is 16-0, and has dropped only one set in three tournaments while collecting $382,614.

With nearly $5 million in the bank, Seles' net worth is nearing the gross national product of, say, Liechtenstein.

The Monica Seles Tour has become so lopsided that new rules soon may be put in effect: Each time an opponent reaches deuce, the game will be stopped and she will be presented the ball.

After her 6-3, 6-1, 72-minute demolition of Martinez, Seles actually said she felt a little shaky on her groundstrokes.

"I was not feeling so secure," Seles said. "I just wanted to finish the match as quickly as possible."

If Seles willed it, it was possible. Martinez stayed in the match until 3-3 in the first set, then lost nine of the last 10 games.

The 19-year-old Spaniard had problems serving in the second set and blamed a sore arm, but said it probably wouldn't have made any difference if her arm were bionic instead of sore.

"It's very difficult to (beat) her," Martinez said. "She plays hard from anywhere on the court."

Seles even plays hard at the net, just not very well. It came to the attention of Chris Evert, whose affiliation with the Ohio-based hair care and beauty company helped launch the first-year tournament, that Seles has a hole in her game.

"She has to force herself to come into the net," Evert said. "If she is ahead, 6-1, 3-0, she needs to try. I remember when I was young and winning from the baseline, I didn't learn to come to the net. I would rather win easily, 6-1, 6-1, than win 6-1, 6-4.

"Looking back, it was the wrong thing to do. But she's still young. It's not too late."

Evert is a Seles fan of long-standing and has grown to admire the way the 18-year-old five-time Grand Slam champion conducts about her business.

"What separates her from everybody else, mentally and emotionally she has it all together," Evert said. "She still has that fire. You can see it in her eyes. She fights. As long as she keeps winning, it's going to be like a snowball effect."

Evert said Seles is thriving at a time when many of her main protagonists are not--Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Jennifer Capriati.

"Monica is the one," Evert said. "She hits angles I've never seen before in my life. She's so good from the baseline that right now, she's getting away with not having a versatile game.

"It's very difficult to be out there and lose, 6-3, 6-0. You put out your best effort and she's killing you."

Tennis Notes

Bjorn Borg won the ATP Senior Tour singles shootout. Playing a tiebreaker format, the 35-year-old Borg defeated 46-year-old Tony Roche, 12-10, 46-year-old Tom Gorman, 7-3, and 44-year-old Bob Lutz, 8-6, 8-6. . . . Stephanie Rehe and Claudia Kohde-Kilsch defeated Jill Hetherington and Kathy Rinaldi, 6-3, 6-3, to win the doubles.

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