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Sanchez Vicario Wins French Open


Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won the French Open for the third time today, defeating Monica Seles 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 6-2.

The victory spoiled what would have been a fairy-tale ending for Seles, who was playing just three weeks after the death of her father, coach and mentor, Karolj Seles.

It was the first Grand Slam title for the Spaniard since the 1994 U.S. Open.

"I can't express what I feel right now," Sanchez Vicario said. "It was a very difficult match, filled with emotion."

The emotional favorite was clearly Seles, who had recaptured her old form so soon after her father's death. Sanchez Vicario mentioned the death while accepting her trophy, saying, "I'm so sorry I beat you. I don't think you are the one who deserved to lose."

Seles also saluted her opponent, and added: "It's been so special coming back this year. As always, I will be back."

Seles said she simply had made too many mistakes.

"In the end, she just made less errors than I did," she said. "But I'm just really happy that I got this far."

Sanchez Vicario depended on her ability to run down almost any shot, and it served her well. But she also took advantage of errors by Seles in the first and third sets.

The players fought through an extremely tight first set, and Sanchez Vicario won it by the tightest of margins: 7-5 in the tiebreaker.

Vicario wins
7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 6-2
Time: 1h 52min

Monica
Seles

Arantxa
Sanchez
Vicario

1st Serve

73%

71%

Aces

1

0

Double Faults

0

2

1st Serve Pts Won

61%

58%

2nd Serve Pts Won

61%

40%

Winners (Incl. Serves)

61

34

Unforced Errors

47

31

Break Points

5-14

3-8

Total Points Won

92

81


But Seles came back with a vengeance in the second set, storming to a 5-0 lead in 18 minutes. Losing badly, Sanchez Vicario elected to take a bathroom break, but it didn't help; Seles closed out the set with a love game, ending with an ace.

But in the third set, the errors started creeping back into Seles' game. She let Sanchez Vicario come back from 15-40 on her serve to win the first game and stop Seles' streak.

Seles had eight unforced errors in that set's first three games; she had only five in the entire second set.

Sanchez Vicario was in trouble in almost every service game in the third set, but managed to hold on to win them, helped by Seles' errors. She ended the match at 6-2 with another long backhand from Seles.

Sanchez Vicario's victory assured a Spanish sweep this year, the first since 1994. Both men's finalists are from Spain.

Carlos Moya went out with buddy Felix Mantilla for ice cream before clobbering him in the semifinals. Now Moya is making dinner plans with another close friend, Alex Corretja, whom he'll face on Sunday.

"Maybe we can have dinner together. That's the most important thing, we're going to be friends even if I win or if he wins," Corretja said. "We have to find our game on the court, and then just enjoy the party."

On a muggy center court friday, Corretja defeated local hero Cedric Pioline of France 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to join Moya in the final. Moya won 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 over Mantilla, yet another Spaniard.

It will be the second all-Spanish men's final in five years at the French Open. Sergi Bruguera defeated Alberto Berasategui for the 1994 title.

"Alex is a close friend of mine," Moya said. "But when you get on the court, you fight like crazy, you run, you do everything, you try to step on him if necessary."

Pioline, hoping to become the first Frenchman to win at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah in 1983, played three five-setters in reaching the semifinals and appeared drained.

"I felt I did everything a bit slowly. On top of that, you're not as focused when you're tired. You don't make the right decisions," he said.

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