Originally created 09/24/98

Seles beats retiring Sawamatsu



TOKYO -- Monica Seles sent Naoko Sawamatsu into retirement with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory Wednesday in the final match on the WTA Tour for the Japanese player.

Seles, the defending champion of Toyota Princess Cup, was playing her opening match in the $450,000 event and now has a spot in the quarterfinals.

Sawamatsu, a 25-year-old who won four tournaments during seven years on the tour, received a standing ovation after she spoke tearfully to the crowd at Ariaka Colosseum.

"It was really difficult going into the match because I have known Naoko for quite some time and I respect her so much as a person as well as a player," Seles said.

"I always have a tough time playing players who are retiring. ... I lost to Chris (Evert) and I lost to Kumiko (Date). I was just glad today that I didn't lose. But it could've been kind of a happy victory if Naoko would be playing next year here."

Sawamatsu, one of Japan's leading tennis players for a decade along with Date, may represent her country in some events this year, including the Sony Life Cup, a U.S.-Japan women's competition.

In other matches, Amy Frazier rallied past third-seeded Amanda Coetzer of South Africa 0-6, 6-3, 6-2.

"I don't think Amanda missed a shot in the first set," Frazier said. "It's not that I played badly in the first set but that she played perfect tennis.

"So I approached the second set thinking that I needed to just hang in there and play each point. Once I won a few games she probably missed more shots than she normally does and definitely many more than in the first set."

In another upset, Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn beat eighth-seeded Hernrieta Nagyova of Slovakia 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) to advance to the quarterfinals.

On Thursday, top seed Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario plays Elena Likohvtseva of Russia. Sanchez-Vicario finished second to Seles in this tournament last year.