OAKLAND, Calif. -- Monica Seles collected her third victory of the year over Martina Navratilova, defeating the No. 2 player in the world 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) Sunday night in the final of the $350,000 Virgina Slims of California.
Seles, seeded second in the the tournament, held off the top-seed Navratilova by keeping the Wimbledon Champion away from the net. She improved to 3-1 for the year against Navratilova.
The 16-year old gained her first service break at 2-1 of the first set, hitting three winners at 15-all. She double faulted to lose her serve in the seventh game, but managed to break back with a passing forehand return in the next game.
She then served out the set after two deuce points, scoring a down- the-line forehand winner.
'She was hitting to the lines more than usually I've seen her do,' said Navratilova. 'I was always playing catch up.'
Before serving the third game of the second set, Navratilova had trainer Kathy Ortega place a wrap on her right knee. She lost the game to Seles.
'I've had tendinitis on and off for a couple of years,' said Navratilova. 'It's a day-to-day thing that happened early in the week.'
Navratilova lost her serve a fourth time in the match to trail 5-2, but she rallied back to win the next four games.
'Monica is very mgture for her age,' said Navratilova. 'She gets a little nervous when she gets ahead but I haven't found that chain to break yet.'
Seles forced a tie-breaker when she hit a passing backhand winner.
'At five-all I just thought in my mind that I got to start back all over again,' said Seles. 'It could have been a three-set match.'
Seles led 5-3 in the tie-break, but lost the next two points which included her third double-fault of the match. She hit a forehand winner on the eleventh point and forced Navratilova to hit a forehand into the alley off a crosscourt backhand return to take the match.
'I played Martina so many times that to play her you've got be your normal self,' said Seles, who is now 50-6 for the year with her seventh singles title. 'We have had many great matches the times we've played.'
Seles earned $70,000 and Navratilova, who dropped to 52-6 for the year, $325,000.
In the doubles final, the top seeded pair of Meredith McGrath and Anne Smith defeated Robyne White and Rosalyn Fairbank-Niedeffer 2-6, 6- 0, 6-4 and earned $21,000. White-Niedeffer took home $10,500 for second.