Tennis: Seles beside seaside

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The Independent Online
Monica Seles will begin her preparations for Wimbledon by defending her title in the grass court championship at Eastbourne this week.

Although she has gathered a total of nine Grand Slam singles titles, the world No 2 has never won at the All England Club. The closest she came was in 1992, when she was beaten in the final by Steffi Graf and won only three games.

Last year she suffered a surprise second-round defeat to Katarina Studenikova, of Russia, but refused to lay the blame on her preparations at Eastbourne.

Seles is seeded to meet Czech Jana Novotna in the final. The French Open champion, Iva Majoli, is seeded third, but the Croatian struggles on grass and has never won a singles match at Wimbledon. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, twice runner-up at Wimbledon is seeded fourth, and last year's runner- up at Eastbourne, Mary Joe Fernandez, is seeded fifth.

The seedings are completed by Irina Spirlea, of Romania, at six, American Kimberley Po at seven, and Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, of the Netherlands, at eight. All eight seeds are ranked in the world's top 15.

The top four seeds have a bye into the second round of the event, which begins tomorrow and concludes Saturday, two days before the start of Wimbledon.