Top-seeded Monica Seles won the first 10 games and beat hard-working Sandra Cecchini of Italy, 6-0, 6-2 to gain the finals of the Virginia Slims of Houston tournament Saturday night.
Seles, of Sarasota, Fla., will play second seeded Mary Joe Fernandez, from Miami, Fla. in Sunday's finals. Fernandez broke Linda Harvey-Wild's serve seven times en route to a 6-0, 6-3 victory in the other semifinals match.Seles was never in danger in the match, but Cecchini won the crowd's favor by contesting each point and rallied briefly in the second set by breaking Seles in the fifth game for her first victory.
Cecchini broke Seles again in the seventh game. She got a loud ovation at break point when she ran down a shot in one corner, ran to the other side and hit a backhand slice just over the net. Seles then netted the return.
"She's always tough to play on clay," Seles said. "She runs everything down and get back a lot of balls."
Seles ended the match by breaking Cecchini in the eighth game on a backhand net error.
"I started to play beter in the second set but it was too late," Cecchini said. "With her, you have to take some chances but I was missing."
After dominating the first set, Fernandez was broken in the second and fourth games of the second set. She trailed 3-1 when she broke Harvey-Wild, of Hawthorn Woods, Ill., in the fifth game and held in the sixth game.
Harvey-Wild took a 40-love lead in the seventh game but then committed five straight errors, losing on a mishit backhand at break point. Fernandez broke Harvey-Wild at love in the final game and won it with a service return winner down the line.
Fernandez returned 96 percent of Harvey-Wild's serves and converted 78 percent of her break point chances.
"She plays the crucial points so well, but then most of the top 10 players do, that's why they are top 10," Harvey-Wild said. "I might have been a little tired, but it was mentally tired more than physically."