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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Seles Returns Triumphant, Graf Loses

combined reports


TORONTO -- Monica Seles and Steffi Graf are equals as far as their co-No.1 ranking, but after Seles's win and Graf's loss in their respective opening matches at the Canadian Open, they seem to be headed in opposite directions.


Once she got over the prematch shakes, Seles loved every moment of her 6-0, 6-3 win over Kimberly Po on Tuesday night. It marked her return to competitive tennis more than 27 months after she was stabbed during a changeover in Hamburg, Germany.


Meanwhile, Graf lost her opening match to Amanda Coetzer, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), and complained of back pain in the aftermath. It was Graf's first loss this year after 32 match wins.


When Seles hit her first few warm-up shots into the net, she looked up at the sky and could have sworn it was moving. "This can't be happening,'' she whispered to herself. "It can't be happening."


But it was.


Sixty-five minutes later, Seles' match was history, after which she hugged her parents and a few friends, then stood in the middle of the court and absolutely glowed with what seemed far more like joy than relief.


"It felt like coming home," Seles said, her words rushing over the packed stands at the National Tennis Center, where the crowd roared its approval, after cheering nearly every point. "I felt so comfortable. I was very nervous. But, it's just, like ... it was simple. It was right."


A little heavier than she used to be and perhaps a bit slower -- there were some occasions when Seles was not able to get into position to get off her trademark two-handed forehand -- she nonetheless made short work of Po, who was added to the tournament field after two players withdrew with injuries.


With Graf gone, the debate over No. 1 that has nagged women's tennis since it was decided that she and Seles would share the ranking on Seles' return will have to wait. With the two again co-seeded No. 1 for the U.S. Open, which begins in New York later this month, they both will have to advance to that tournament's final in order to face each other. "The first time, I think that's a little unrealistic," said Seles, when asked about her chances in the U.S. Open. "Maybe the Australian Open."


Graf's chances for a fourth U.S. Open title suddenly don't look as good as they should, either. Besides a resurgent Seles, Graf also has ongoing struggles with injury and her father's arrest on tax evasion problems to distract her from the business at hand. The loss here raises doubts as to whether she has the focus on her game to win in New York.


As far as Po is concerned, Seles already is back in prime form. Used to playing in front of what she described as "maybe five or six people -- two of them your parents and one your doubles partner," Po admitted to a little stage fright of her own at the start.


After the first few warmups, Seles displayed neither nervousness nor fear -- of the crowd or anything -- but the sight of three guards seated next to the changeover chairs made it clear security had been tightened, just in case.


She chose to sit with her back to the crowd on changeovers, although it is now common for the players' chairs to be set at an angle to the stands.


"It was a game and then it became something else," said Seles, who was the top-ranked woman in the world at the time of the stabbing. "And I hope now that I can bring it back to that game. My main thing now is to play tennis. All I want is to keep it simple." ()


(For other results, see Scorecard.)