Powerless Fernandez is brushed aside

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The Independent Online
Monica Seles eased her way into ominous Wimbledon form with a ruthless demolition of Mary-Joe Fernandez in the Direct Line Insurance Championships final at Eastbourne on Saturday.

She crushed the world No 9, 6-0, 6-2, in just 45 minutes of embarrassingly one-sided tennis to capture the first grass-court title of her career.

Seles claimed she was inspired by the cool, cloudy South Coast weather. "I noticed Mary-Joe had goose bumps and I was so cold out there I just wanted to keep moving," she explained. Seles warmed up for her Wimbledon return after four years' absence with a devastating display of baseline power hitting and accuracy which left her deflated opponent scoffing at suggestions that the second seed will be a flop.

Nathalie Tauziat had earlier described Seles as unfit and put her Wimbledon prospects no higher than 50-50. But Fernandez said: "I like Monica's Wimbledon chances. She has a great leftie serve on the grass and I think she can handle anybody there.

Fernandez refused to blame the margin of her defeat on a four-and-a-half- hour playing schedule.

"She washed me up today. I was always a step too slow and I feel like I have been through the wringer. She just didn't give me any opportunity to get into the match."

The only cloud on Seles's Wimbledon horizon is the torn shoulder muscle which causes her constant pain and may need surgery to repair after the US Open in August. She is collating information from tennis players and baseball stars affected by similar injuries on the most effective treatment.

But Seles gave no hint of being hampered as she sizzled into action against Fernandez, conceding only two points of the first 22. Fernandez claimed only five points as Seles won the first set in just 18 minutes.

Two mighty two-fisted cross-court backhands finally put Fernandez out of her misery and brought Seles her 36th career singles title. Now she plans to practise with Martina Navratilova to sharpen up further.