The scoreline: Seles, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3)
Why it mattered then:
We like to think of this match as the fairy tale breakthrough of a young phenom, but Capriati was already firmly established in the top 10 and was seeded seventh at the Open. She had reached the 1990 French Open semifinals, losing to Seles, and the 1991 Wimbledon semifinals, losing to Gabriela Sabatini. Seles was another step up, but a battle was expected between the two teenagers.
Seles was attempting to reclaim the No. 1 ranking she had captured from Graf earlier in the year and was gunning for her third grand slam crown of the year. Everyone knew that Seles was the best player, and now she needed the stamp of approval of a year-end No. 1 ranking.
After Seles shot out to a 6-3, 3-1 lead, the match was still merely on the simmer and a relatively straightforward Seles win seemed likely. But Capriati found a new level, won the next five games, and sent the match to one of the more captivating third sets ever played.
It wasn't often pretty, and that's what made it beautiful.
Contrasted with the styles of Graf and Navratilova, Seles and Capriati offered a one-dimensional but remarkably effective power game. It was built on precision, penetration and a penchant for taking the ball early and on the rise. Watching this match, you had the feeling that a new era had arrived.
Why it matters now:
Twenty years later, the new era continues. With the exception of a small blip in the trend named Martina Hingis, and a smattering of crafty French Open winners, women embraced a game built around flat groundstrokes and two-handed backhands. The scary thing is that few women are as good at employing this tactic as were Capriati, Seles, Davenport, Henin, Clijsters and the Williams sisters. Without them to compete against each other, we're left with a hollowness in the women's game.