Looking vulnerable for the first time, Monica Seles continued her comeback to tournament tennis after nearly 21/2 years Friday night, reaching the semifinals of the Canadian Open with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 7 Anke Huber.
After two easy victories against Kimberly Po and Nathalie Tauziat, Seles ran into some problems with Huber, her first Top 10 opponent.She was broken twice at the start of the match, her first service breaks of the tournament. She lost the first game, trailing in a match for the first time. And for the first time, she had spells of ordinary tennis.
Some of her shots were badly off the mark, and sometimes she seemed to move in slow motion.
But she was still good enough to get by Huber.
After losing her first two service games, Seles bounced back each time to break Huber. That kept the first game even, although Seles seemed challenged for the first time in three matches. Huber mixed her shots and ran Seles, who is favoring a cranky left knee.
Typical of Seles' problems was a sequence when she had Huber at her mercy only to hit the ball into the net. Still, she overcame the error to break Huber for the third time. That gave her a 5-3 lead and serving for the set, Seles made no more mistakes.
The second set was all Seles. She broke Huber in the first game and sailed to a 5-0 lead. Then, serving for the match, she was broken again. After Huber held her own service, Seles finished off the match.
The Seles comeback celebration continues Saturday against Gabriela Sabatini, an easy 6-2, 6-1 winner over No. 13 Helena Sukova.
Sabatini is looking forward to the match, much as she did last November, when she beat Martina Navratilova at the Virginia Slims championships at New York. That was the last tournament of Navratilova's career. This is the first tournament of Seles' return.
"I like the opportunity to play in this situation," Sabatini said. "For me, the opportunity to play her will be special, just like the Slims against Martina."
At New Haven, Conn., Mats Wilander delighted his new hometown crowd Friday, upsetting Marc Rosset in the quarterfinals of the Volvo International.
Wilander, a native of Sweden who now resides in Greenwich, overcame sixth-seeded Rosset 6-7 (10-8), 7-5, 7-5 in a late afternoon match that featured numerous extended rallies.
Andre Agassi, playing in a night match, advanced to the semifinals by beating seventh-seeded Sergi Bruguera 6-4, 6-1, improving his record on hard courts this year to 44-2 and winning his 18th straight match.
At Indianapolis, top-seeded Pete Sampras reached the 400-victory mark on the ATP Tour, beating Andrei Medvedev of Ukraine 6-2, 6-2 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the RCA Championships.
Medvedev, who upset Sampras in the German Open semifinals in May, was never a factor in the rematch at the Indianapolis Tennis Center.