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Tuesday, September 26
Seles makes up for disappointment in '96

SYDNEY, Australia -- For the first time in years, Monica Seles won her final match in a big tournament.

Only a bronze medal was at stake, not the gold. Still, a 6-1, 6-4 victory Tuesday over Australian Jelena Dokic allowed Seles to finish the Olympics wearing a grin.

"I'm just happy I won a medal," she said. "Away from the gold, a bronze is good."

The third-place showing was another small sign of progress for the third-seeded Seles, who failed to earn a medal four years ago at the Atlanta Olympics. A few months before that, Seles won her ninth and most recent Grand Slam title at the 1996 Australian Open.

At 26, she believes there's another major title in her future.

"If I didn't believe that, I think I probably wouldn't be playing," she said.

In recent years Seles has struggled against top players, mostly because of sluggish movement and an inconsistent serve. She's 0-5 against Venus Williams, including a three-set defeat in the Sydney semifinals.

"She just hasn't gotten over the hump of beating players like Martina Hingis, the Williams sisters and myself," Olympic teammate Lindsay Davenport said. "She beats everybody else. She has been working very hard, and hopefully she'll make her breakthrough to go back on top soon.

"Her movement has been a little bit of a factor, but when she's there, she hits the ball better than anybody."

So Dokic discovered. The 17-year-old Aussie tried to match Seles' baseline power and failed.

Seles won the first nine points, led 3-0 after six minutes and won the opening set in 23. The second set was closer, but Seles broke for a 5-4 lead and closed out the victory with aces on the final two points.

The Williams sisters and the rest of the U.S. team cheered, and Seles grinned and waved to them. Now she has an Olympic medal to go with all of those trophies from the Australian, French and U.S. Opens.

"For me Grand Slams are still much bigger," she said. "But this is such an honor to represent your country."


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