The computer doesn't care about Monica Seles' powder-puff serves, slapstick volleys and tanglefoot approach shots.
The computer doesn't know that she plays the same strategy every match or that she has two speeds on her groundstrokes - hard and harder - and two tones in her grunts.All the Virginia Slims computer knows is that Seles has enough points to back into the No. 1 spot next week even if she goes fishing until then and Steffi Graf wins in Boca Raton, Fla.
Such is the state of women's tennis that a 17-year-old who admits she's still far from mastering many of the basic shots in the game is poised to become the youngest top-ranked player in the Open era.
Who says she'll be No. 1? The computer.
Martina Navratilova could only delay the inevitable by beating Seles 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) on Monday in the Slims event at Sonny Bono's Racket Club. Faster than hizzoner the mayor could sing "I've Got You, Babe," Navratilova had the baby-faced Seles down 4-0.
Navratilova, twice Seles' age, dashed around the court as if she had bionic legs. Who knows what lurks beneath those scars? She limped through the summer after winning her ninth Wimbledon, had surgery on both knees in November, and suddenly she's pirouetting at the net.
Volleys, half-volleys, scissor-kick overheads - Navratilova did it all with a delightful athletic grace that Seles still lacks.
Navratilova gave Seles a few serving lessons, too, smacking 90-100 mph winners down the middle while Seles struggled in the 70-80 mph range, according to the computerized courtside radar gun. The whole sport, it seems, is going to computers.
Seles will reach No. 1 on March 11 because by then her second-round loss in last year's Virginia Slims of Florida will fall off the computer and her average will rise high enough to pass Graf even if the German wins in Florida.