HOUSTON -- Monica Seles, returning to the site of her first professional title, routed hometown favorite Zina Garrison 6-1, 6-1 Sunday to win the $350,000 Virginia Slims of Houston for the third time.
'It was pretty close match today,' said Seles, who won this event in 1989 and 1990. 'Each game was very close and there were a lot of good points. I just played very well on the key points.'
The 18-year-old Yugoslav now living in Sarasota, Fla., showed no signs of an injured right wrist suffered on March 19, as she was never tested on the clay this week while sweeping past four opponents.
Seles, the world's No. 1 female player, earned $70,000 for her victory. She is 23-1 this year with four tournament titles.
'I didn't want to let Zina into the match too much because she's a great player and can give me a very tough time,' she said. 'There were a lot of very close games that could have gone either way. So the score was not that easy as it looked.'
Seles and Garrison each made eight unforced errors. But Seles held a 16-7 advantage in winners over her 28-year-old opponent from Houston.
'Some shots were going pretty well today and some shots were not,' Seles said. 'I was lucky on the average it was pretty good.'
Seles played her usual aggressive double-fisted baseline game, punctuated with a her signature grunt, to roll through the opening set with service breaks in the first, third and sixth games against her No. 16 ranked opponent.
Garrison, who was forced out of last year's event and hospitalized with dehydration, took her only lead with a service break to start the second set. However, Seles, regained control and ran off the final six games for her 24th career title.
Garrison, who is 1-5 against against Seles, earned $31,500 as runner- up. She said she was fatigued from her semifinal match and a late doubles victory Saturday night.
'There's not much to say about the match,' she said. 'Last night I felt it pretty much.
'When you play the No. 1 player in the world, you have to stay on top of her all the time. To play Monica, you have to run with her, hit a lot of balls, be patient and hit your shot when you get it. I needed that extra step, and when I went out there, I didn't have it today.'
Garrison said Seles is hands down the best player on the tour.
'Look 20 titles in 21 tournaments,' she said. 'She's clearly the best in the world. She's playing more consistent than anyone else and she's so mentally tough. That's what you need to do.'
Garrison, a three-time semifinalist in this event, said shewas not entirely discouraged by the results.
'Me getting to a clay court final -- that's positive,' she said.
Seles will play the European clay courts this week in Barcelona and Wimbledon this summer.
'I just told myself, 'It's my last match this week, just give it everything you have.''