Anna Kournikova is still searching for her first tournament victory.
Monica Seles cooled down Kournikova with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory in the semifinals of the $535,000 Acura Classic. In today’s finals, Seles will face Venus Williams, who trounced Amy Frazier 6-2, 6-3 in the other semifinal. Williams has won 14 straight matches and seeking her third tournament title in a row. Seles, winner of nine Grand Slam titles, played her best match of the week as she bounced Kournikova, who beat two top 10 players to reach the semis.
Kournikova, who beat No. 2-ranked Lindsay Davenport in the second round, got off to a sluggish start as she had in her last two matches. However, after rebounding to force a second-set tiebreak, Kournikova committed six unforced errors.
“It was a very good second set,” Seles said. “Anna played some unbelievable tennis. I had to fight to get to the tiebreaker.”
The fifth-ranked Seles reeled off five consecutive games to win the first set after Kournikova broke her serve for a 3-1 lead.
After Seles took a 4-1 lead in the second set, Kournikova refused to go easily as he won the next three games to tie match at 4-4.
Kournikova took a 1-0 lead in the tiebreak, then made one mistake after another. Perhaps the most costly came when she hit an easy overhead shot into the net to give Seles a 3-1 lead.
“The difference was in the beginning where Monica was fighting really good,” Kournikova said. “I was a bit tired and didn’t move well.”
In the other match, Frazier, who upset top-ranked Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals, couldn’t handle Williams’ power.
“She hit the ball so hard,” Frazier said. “I was just trying to stay in the points and she really wasn’t letting me do anything. I sort of felt a little lost at times.”
Frazier was barely competitive on a day when Williams made only 46 percent of her first serves and committed 28 unforced errors. Williams did, however, hit 27 winners to just three for the 26th-ranked Frazier.
“I didn’t play too well,” Williams said. “I felt I was off-balance quite a lot.” Williams holds a 2-0 career edge over Seles, who has yet to win a set.
Frazier came the closest to stopping Williams’ winning streak when she extended the Wimbledon champion to three sets last week in the quarterfinals at the Bank of the West Classic. Williams prevailed, though, in a third-set tiebreaker, and went on to win the tournament.
“Last week, I played about zero percent,” Williams said. “I couldn’t believe how bad I played last week.”
Frazier again couldn’t take advantage of a sub-par performance by Williams.
“I just didn’t have any answers,” Frazier said.