Sunday, May 6, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Hard-Hitting Monica Seles Storms To Tennis Stardom


NEW YORK - One year after she upset Chris Evert to capture her first pro tennis title, Monica Seles, 16, is ranked third in the world.

``Going to No. 2 is pretty hard,'' said the Yugoslavian sensation who now lives in Florida. ``If I could stay at No. 3 for the entire year, I would be satisfied. My goal is to do my best, really do well in Grand Slam tournaments.''

Using a two-handed backhand and forehand, Seles is one of the hardest hitters on the women's tour.

``If Seles had Steffi's serve, we'd all be out of the game,'' Martina Navratilova said. ``Her groundstrokes are incredible.''

Seles, ranked 88th a year ago, climbed to No. 3 behind Steffi Graf and Navratilova despite a shoulder injury that slowed her progress earlier this year.

Seles has won her past three tournaments - the International Players Championships at Key Biscayne, Fla., the U.S. Hardcourt Championships and the Eckerd Open at Tampa, Fla. In those events, Seles did not drop a set.

Seles, a left-hander, is seeded second in the Italian Open behind Navratilova. She is also the No. 2 seed in the French Open, behind top-ranked Graf. Navratilova is skipping the French Open. Last year, Seles reached the semifinals in Paris.

Last November, Navratilova said Seles was on the verge of becoming ``awesome.''

``Seles hits from both sides better than anybody,'' Navratilova said then, ``and she is not an all-around player. She is uncomfortable

at the net. But if she can get that going, she will be very dangerous. She is dangerous already, but she will be a complete power and she would be awesome.''

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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