Top women open play in predictable fashion Graf's shoulder OK; Seles to reveal outfit


NEW YORK -- These bulletins come from the health and fashion file at the U.S. Open:

Steffi Graf says her right shoulder is fine.

Monica Seles plans to unveil "a sophisticated" tennis outfit sometime "during the second week." If she makes it that far.

Otherwise, it was just a standard opening for the women at the U.S. Open yesterday as the haves unloaded on the havenots.

On the grandstand court, there was defending champion and No. 3 seed Gabriela Sabatini defeating Nicole Provis, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, and No. 7 seed Jennifer Capriati overwhelming Eva Pfaff, FTC 6-1, 6-0, in a match that took 27 minutes.

But the focus was on Graf, the woman who won Wimbledon, and Seles, the teen-ager who wasn't there. They each sailed past overmatched opponents in Louis Armstrong Stadium -- Graf, No. 1,crushing Andrea Temesvari, 6-1, 6-2, and Seles, No. 2, defeating Nicole Arendt, 6-2, 6-0.

Graf sustained a torn tendon in her right shoulder at July's Federation Cup, and her status for the U.S. Open was doubtful up until Sunday.

"When I first got hurt, I couldn't even turn the hand around," Graf said. "I couldn't hold anything. The first 10 days after it happened, I couldn't jog. I couldn't move. That was the most difficult thing for me. I couldn't do anything physically. That was the most depressing thing."

But with exercise, therapy and ultrasound, Graf regained the strength in her shoulder and began to practice two weeks ago. She warmed up Sunday, "felt fine," and decided to play in the Open, a tournament she has won twice.

After trading shots in a morning workout yesterday with Wimbledon men's champion Michael Stich, Graf relaxed and prepared to meet Temesvari. One forehand passing shot into the night match, and it was clear that Graf was healthy.

"I'm happy to be here," she said. "I'm happy to be part of it."

So was Seles, the Madonna of the women's tour. She has written the strangest tennis story of the year, winning the Australian and French Opens, and then pulling out of Wimbledon with a mysterious injury that was later diagnosed as shin splints. Even while dodging officials of the Women's Tennis Association, and hiding out at Donald Trump's Florida estate, she found time to pose for pictures stepping out of a limousine in a wig and dark glasses.

"I don't think people understood how hard it was for me to pull out of Wimbledon and not play it," she said. "And then you know, just everybody was kind of like throwing rocks at me, with all these different ideas that they had, which none of them were true. I mean, I think everybody knows those stories. I won't repeat them. I just think it took awhile for me to forget them."

Now, Seles wants to create another stir at the Open, stepping into the shoes vacated by that tennis fashion leader, Andre Agassi. She plans to wear a specially designed outfit that is sure to shock tennis traditionalists. What is the design? She won't provide specifics. Just wait and watch.

"I am trying to bring new things into tennis," she said. "I love my line [of clothes]. I think for the fun of it we should create different outfits for a few matches."

Seles said she gave her designers "four ideas," a few of which "were shocking."

"But the designers listened to me, and said, 'OK, we will try them,' she said.

The only other question now is if Seles will even be playing in the second week. In 1990, she was upset in the third round of the Open by Linda Ferrando. Although her draw is tame until a projected quarterfinal pairing with No. 5 Mary Joe Fernandez, Seles remains an unpredictable performer on and off hard courts.

"I think hopefully I should be in good form," Seles said. "But I think physically, I am still coming back. But I'm not where I want to be yet. But I think this is totally normal."

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