The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Iím in the final stages of my career: Monica Seles

Paris: Facing up to her earliest ever Grand Slam exit on Tuesday three-time French Open champion Monica Seles conceded that she was fighting a losing battle to stay on the court.

The 29-year-old, who fought her way back following an absence of over two years after being stabbed in the back by a Steffi Graf fan in Germany ten years ago, slumped 4-6, 0-6 in just under an hour to hard-hitting Russian Nadia Petrova.

It was the second time in two weeks that the American veteran went down to 76th-ranked Petrova after retiring in Rome two weeks ago with a left foot injury which she admits has become unbearable.

After one battle to return to the court, surgery is something Seles is loath to consider at this stage in her career.

ďRealistically, I know Iím in the latter stages of my career. I donít have the luxury of taking five or six months off,Ē she said.

ďAt the same time I donít want to have the surgery to put a screw in my foot, I am trying everything. I mean you think five months off, surgery, thatís another three months of training.

ďLindsay (Davenport) has done it. Sheís two years younger than I am. It could be done but I just donít think I would have that uphill challenge in me to do it.

ďThis year, really, since January has been very difficult. Itís been a struggle. I think I do have to give it a break and then reassess what I want to do after how my foot responds to it. Itís one of these things, itís your bone and thereís not much you can do ó just got to give it time.Ē

Seles, one of only two women ever to win a hattrick of titles here between 1990-1992 before being attacked, has never done worse than a quarter final finish in her ten previous appearances at Roland Garros.

The American 12th seed had led 4-3 in the opening set but the 20-year-old Russian upped the tempo to win every game that followed.

Yugoslav-born Seles has collected 53 WTA titles and nine Grand Slams in her 14-year career, but only one major crown since returning from her stabbing ordeal eight years ago ó the 1996 Australian Open.

But she ruled out making a rash decision on her future.

ďIím a positive person. Iíll try not to give up. I mean, Iíve faced worse stuff.

ďThis is not the way I would like to leave. I do think if Iím healthy I can play good tennis and I wonít give up. Iím hard-headed but I understand that I just have to give it time.

ďI wasnít coming here with too many expectations ó obviously my wish to play is not matching my performance and I just have to accept that,Ē said Seles.

The American, who has failed to win this season despite having reached the finals in Tokyo and Dubai, explained that she would now take ten days rest and decide whether she would compete in Wimbledon next month.

ďIíd definitely like to play, but if Iím at the level Iím at today you definitely wonít see me,Ē she said.

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