Steffi Graf beat 15-year-old Mirjana Lucic of Croatia 6-2, 7-5 Saturday in the final of the Strasbourg (France) Open for her first victory of 1997.
Lucic lost for the first time this year in her second pro tournament. Lucic won the Bol Open in her country last month in her first official pro tournament, and had won her first 15 matches on the WTA tour.
It was Graf’s 103rd career victory, but no breeze.
After taking the first set in less than 30 minutes, Graf found herself down 4-2 in the second as the 5-foot-10 Lucic made a comeback.
Graf is now 12-2 this year after being out of tournament play from February until last week, when she suffered the worst loss of her career, losing to Amanda Coetzer 6-0, 6-1.
At Madrid, Spain, defending champion Jana Novotna defeated Monica Seles 7-5, 6-1 to win the Madrid Open in a tuneup for the French Open.
Seles was the No. 1 seed and Novotna was seeded second in the clay court event, the same surface used in Paris.
The first set was a seesaw affair, but Novotna overpowered Seles in the second.
Spain defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in the World Team Cup at Duesseldorf, Germany, setting up a championship match against Australia.
Spain, a five-time finalist, has beaten Australia in two of its three cup victories.
Albert Costa gave Spain an unbeatable 2-0 lead, defeating Jan Siemerink 6-1, 7-6 (8-6). Felix Mantilla won the first singles, 6-1, 6-1 over Paul Haarhuis.