Seles wins Eckerd Open

LARGO, Fla. -- Top seed Monica Seles of Yugoslavia routed fourth seed Katerina Maleeva of Bulgaria 6-1, 6-0 Sunday to win the $225,000 Eckerd Open.

Seles, 16, took care of Maleeva in 54 minutes to earn the $45,000 winners' check. Maleeva, 20, pocketed $20,200.


'I wasn't missing many balls,' Seles said. 'The groundstrokes were working I think. I knew I had to hit a lot of winners.'

Seles hit 32 winners to be exact, while Maleeva managed just nine.

Seles, who lives in Bradenton, Fla., has now won 20 of her 23 matches, including 15 in a row -- all in straight sets.

Maleeva was out of this match from the beginning. Her signature steady baseline game was totally uneffective against the hard-hitting Seles.

Seles won 18 of the first 23 points and led 4-0 before some people found their seats at Bardmoor Country Club. Finally, in the fifth game, Maleeva won a game. The first set alone took just 29 minutes and Seles never lost a point on her serve.

'She pretty much couldn't hurt me,' Seles said.

'I don't think (Seles) hits the ball that hard,' Maleeva said. 'Her strength is she hits it very early and that makes it difficult to anticipate where she's going to hit the ball.'

Things only got worse for Maleeva in the second set. Seles never her a chance to get back into the match, banging winners from every angle at the baseline. Fittingly, on match point, Seles finished off Maleeva with a forehand volley, one of her rare approaches to the net.

'I knew she was a good clay court player,' said Seles. 'So I thought it was going to be a tough one. But I was playing really well.'

Both players head now to Europe for several clay court tournaments leading up to the French Open, the second Grand Slam event of the season.

In the doubles final, the top seeded team of Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain and Mercedes Paz of Argentina blasted the fourth seeded team of Laura Gildemeister of Peru and Sandra Cecchini of Italy 6-2, 6-0. It was the second straight doubles title for Sanchez Vicario and Paz, who plan to play together during the European swing of the tour.

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