Between them, they have 29 Grand Slam tournament titles, eight of them at the U.S. Open. In a tennis year dominated by teenagers, the elders on the women's tour are every bit as dangerous as the youngsters.
Steffi Graf and Monica Seles are part of the "old crew." They also are in the third round after winning straight-set matches in a rain-shortened Wednesday program.Both Graf and Seles are on comeback trails and both recently captured their first tournaments of the year. Between them, they have spent 552 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world and have reached the title match at the U.S. Open 12 times.
It's that experience at the National Tennis Center, along with their growing confidence, that puts them in with other women, including top-ranked defending champion Martina Hingis, 1997 finalist Venus Williams and second-seeded Lindsay Davenport, who are considered the favorites for the year's final Grand Slam tournament.
After Graf won her second-round match over fellow German Marlene Weingartner 6-0, 6-1, she returned to the outside courts for additional practice.
"I felt I needed to - I wanted to, not needed to," Graf said. "I felt this morning when I was practicing I wasn't playing so well, and during the match it was better. So I felt I wanted to hit some more, just move around a little more."
Seles advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over South African Joannette Kruger.
"I am happy," Seles said. "As long as you win the match . . . it doesn't make a difference to me if I played a three-setter or one-love, so I will just look forward to my next match now."
Seles next will take on Anne Miller of Midland, Mich., a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 winner over Evgenia Koul-i-kovs-kaya of Russia.
Although Seles won't be 25 until December, her domination of women's tennis ended five years ago when she was stabbed in the back by a spectator during a match in Hamburg, Germany.
Graf's third-round opponent will be hard-hitting Mirjana Lucic of Croatia, a 16-year-old right-hander who defeated Japan's Naoko Sawamatsu 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.
"I have to be on my toes," the 29-year-old Graf said of her next match. "I have to move well and probably make her play a lot of points."
Also victorious before the rains washed away the night action were third-seeded Jana Novotna, No. 9 Irina Spirlea, No. 11 Patty Schnyder and No. 14 Dominique Van Roost. The first seeded player to be ousted of the women's singles was No. 16 Ai Sugiyama, who was trailing 2-3 in the opening set when she retired with a sprained left ankle.
Spirlea's next opponent will be Serena Williams, the younger sister of the tournament's No. 5 seed, Venus.