No. 1 Seles and No. 2 Graf reach U.S. Hardcourt final

SAN ANTONIO — SAN ANTONIO -- Monica Seles and Steffi Graf advanced yesterday to the finals of the U.S. Women's Hardcourt Championships, setting up the first encounter of the year between the world's top women players.

Top-ranked Seles held off a semifinal challenge from Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.


Second-ranked Graf, exhibiting near-flawless form, had an easier time, dispatching Julie Halard, 6-0, 6-1, in 41 minutes.

The victories set the stage for Seles, 17, and Graf, 21, to meet for the first time since Seles defeated Graf for the 1990 French Open title.


It also will be the first meeting between the two since Seles ascended to the top ranking March 11 after Graf's record 186-week reign at the top.

Both Graf and Seles, who will retain her No. 1 ranking even if she falls to Graf, downplayed the importance of today's match.

"It will just mean that she or I were better that day," Seles said. "I will have to serve and return better and be more aggressive than I was today."

"It's not winning a tournament or winning against someone special," Graf said. "It's me I'm concerned about. I just want to do well."