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Seles Defeats Navratilova in Straight Sets : Italian Open: She needs only 53 minutes in the final for 6-1, 6-1 victory against the world’s second-ranked woman.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Monica Seles has taken up a new hobby. The 16-year-old tennis star has taken a liking to magic. Her first trick was a difficult one, but she gave a magnificent performance.

Seles made Martina Navratilova quickly disappear from center court, defeating the weary veteran, 6-1, 6-1, Sunday to win the women’s Italian Open.

“I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck,” Navratilova told the crowd of 8,000, who basked in the warmth of the sun during the 53-minute blowout.

Despite winning 150 titles, Navratilova has yet to win the Italian Open title in six attempts on the slow, red-clay courts,

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The second-seeded Seles, who won $100,000, took control of the match early and never looked back.

It was the first victory after three losses against Navratilova, the second-ranked female player in the world, for the Yugoslavia-born Floridian and her fourth consecutive title of the year.

“Oh, it’s a big breakthrough for me,” said Seles, the world’s No. 4 player, who has won 20 consecutive straight-set matches.

“Last year when I beat Chris (Evert), it was a big breakthrough. And now beating Martina this year, definitely.”

Seles also combined with Canadian Helen Kelesi to win the doubles title.

Navratilova’s usually invincible left-handed serve was never a factor on the clay, and she couldn’t seem to get the rest of her game untracked.

“I was flat today, and, as Chris (Evert) would say, I got my clocked cleaned,” the top-seeded Navratilova said.

“I could never sustain anything long enough for her to back off a little bit to get her not to hit as hard. She was eating up everything.

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“I was always playing catch-up and could never get ahead.”

At 2-1, Seles won 20 of the next 23 points to win the first set and move ahead, 1-0, in the second. The score went to 2-1 again in the second set before Seles took the next four games while dropping only five points.

The match ended with Navratilova meekly hitting a forehand volley into the net.

“I still have to see the stats, but I bet the ratio of winners to unforced errors must be very very high,” Navratilova said.

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She was right. Seles had 37 winners, including 12 passing shots, and only six unforced errors. Navratilova had nine winners and 11 errors.

Navratilova suffered an even worse defeat here in 1975, losing, 6-1, 6-0, to Evert in the final.

“It’s just a loss,” Navratilova said. “It doesn’t matter if it was love and love or 7-6 in the third. The one good thing about losing this quickly is you don’t get tired.”

Navratilova, 33, said Saturday night’s 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 semifinal victory over Argentina’s Gabriela Sabatini, the two-time defending champion, took nearly everything out of her.

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“Physically, I felt fine--but emotionally, it (Saturday’s match) drained me. At my age, it’s easier to get down than up.”

Navratilova, who said the support from the crowd was “unbelievable” and helped motivate her, especially after the Sabatini match.

“This (title) would mean as much as anything to me.

“Yesterday, I was just as excited as I’ve ever been after winning a tournament just short of a Grand Slam. I was like a little kid.

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“I wanted to win. I gave all I had, but didn’t have much luck today. I kept trying . . . she just didn’t let me in the match.”

Said Craig Kardon, one of Navratilova’s two coaches: “She was flat. Emotionally and physically she was exhausted from last night’s match. Monica played great. She deserves all the credit.”

Added Billie Jean King, who also coaches Navratilova: “It was hopeless out there today for Martina. She was dead.

“Sometimes as you get older it’s harder to get up. That’s what happened today.”

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King said Seles had the three ingredients that champions are made of: “She loves to perform for the crowds; loves to have fun; and wants to be No. 1 very badly.”


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