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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Seles Survives, to Meet Huber in Final

MELBOURNE -- Monica Seles didn't dominate. She survived.


Teenager Chanda Rubin, the 13th seed, retrieved some of her best shots, pushed her around for much of Thursday afternoon and came within two points of beating the three-time Australian Open champion in the semifinals.


Then tennis' marathon woman couldn't finish it.


Seles won 6-7 (7-2), 6-1, 7-5 after trailing 5-2 in the final set, stretching her perfect match record in Australian Opens to 27-0.


Among her eight Grand Slam titles, she won the Australian in 1991, 1992 and 1993 before taking 2 1/2 years off the tour after a deranged spectator stabbed her in Germany.


She said later a sore shoulder, from lifting weights, had forced her to stop practice the previous day, when "I couldn't lift my arm.'' But she said she felt fine going into Thursday's semifinal, despite earlier groin and leg injuries.


For the title Saturday, the top seed will face No. 8 Anke Huber of Germany, who reached her first Grand Slam final by beating No. 16 Amanda Coetzer of South Africa 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Huber did not feel she hit her stride until the third set.


"I just tried to do too much in the beginning, I tried to hit too many winners, just to go for every shot, which was a little bit stupid," she said.


"The second set was still very close. I didn't really feel like I was playing my best," Huber said.


Rubin's best previous Grand Slam result was reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open last year, but her marathon matches have put her in the record books. At Wimbledon last year, she set a Grand Slam women's record for most games in a match -- 58 -- in a 7-6, 6-7, 17-15 second-round victory over Patricia Hy-Boulais.


To reach the semifinals, the No. 13 seed set Australian Open women's records for longest match and final set in beating No. 3 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-4, 2-6, 16-14 in 3 1/2 hours.


"She was the one who was maybe supposed to feel tired,'' Seles said of her 19-year-old opponent. "She was running down balls that a lot of people won't even run for, and I got very nervous.''


Rubin nearly broke service for a 5-1 lead in the final set. Down 15-40, Seles hit a forehand crosscourt winner and got to deuce when Rubin hit a forehand long off of a second serve. She held on a forehand crosscourt passing shot under pressure and another forehand error by Rubin.


Serving for the match at 5-4, Rubin was two points away at 30-15. She double-faulted to 30-30 and then hit a forehand volley wide. Seles missed one break point, but converted the next when Rubin netted an easy backhand putaway chance.


Rubin said she most regretted that double fault. She had hit one second-serve ace earlier in the match, and, "I knew that if I didn't go for my second that she would take charge. I made a decision to go for it.''


On the volley, "I maybe went for it a little bit too much,'' she added.


"I gave myself the chance and just didn't come through,'' Rubin said.


Despite the marathon match two days earlier, Rubin said she felt great physically and mentally.


The match was interrupted 35 minutes for rain after the third set's first game. Center Court's roof was closed for the rest of the match.


Huber's style of play is different from Rubin's, but she said she hoped she had learned from two losses to Seles last year, in the U.S. and Canadian Opens.


As for feeling satisfied just to come this far, she said, "I try to do everything, I try to win, and try to play my best. I hope that I still can concentrate on Saturday.''