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Sabatini's Soft Touch Is Working; Seles Gets Hy

September 07, 1992|THOMAS BONK

NEW YORK — Call it service with a smile?

Does it matter to Gabriela Sabatini that she didn't serve an ace in her fourth-round U.S. Open match against Sabine Appelmans, that she has exactly four aces in four matches or that she is hitting serves so slow that they can be timed with a sundial?

Of course not.

"No, I don't think so," said Sabatini, who trounced Appelmans, 6-1, 6-3, Sunday to arrive in the quarterfinals for the fifth consecutive year. "I just tried to put the first serve in and make sure that I hit the ball in play, just try to put it in."

She could do that, all right. The 1990 champion made 93% of her first serves, even though she won just 59% of the points.

"I am ready to have big matches," Sabatini said.

That will happen soon enough, now that the quarterfinals are upon us. With Sabatini safely in, top-seeded Monica Seles got there shortly afterward, after a 53-minute waxing of Gigi Fernandez, 6-1, 6-2, and now finds herself facing off against upset-producing specialist Patricia Hy.

Hy, who defeated Jennifer Capriati in the third round, came back with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) upset of 13th-seeded Helena Sukova.

"After beating Jennifer, I had to really work hard not to get that in my head because that is very easy to do," she said. "It is not like I beat a top-10 player every day, so whenever my mind went back to Capriati's match, I had to pull myself back to the present."

Hy said she isn't going to be scared when she plays Seles.

"I know she has had some great successes, but I have got some great matches behind me," Hy said.

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