HOUSTON -- Fourth-seeded Katerina Maleeva of Bulgaria defeated third-seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 Sunday at the Virginia Slims of Houston.
In a match that lasted 2 hours, 25 minutes, including a 17-minute rain delay, Maleeva pulled off her second upset of the week to win her 10th career singles title.
'This was a great week for me,' Maleeva said. 'Of all the tournaments I have won, this is the biggest especially since it's my sister's bithday. (Maggie, the youngest of the Maleeva's turned 15). I won two matches, I beat Martina (Navratilova), went to bed at 3:30 a.m. and I usually go at 10 p.m., I slept six or seven hours and I usually sleep 10. It was definitely a good tournament for me.'
The score in the first two sets is not indicative of the closeness of the points. In the third set, though Maleeva jumped out front 4-1, it was anybody's set.
Sanchez Vicario held serve at 2-4 followed by the rain delay. After the delay, she broke Maleeva making the score 4-3. Sanchez Vicario fought off three break points to tie the games at four all.
'The set could have gone either way when it was 4-4,' Maleeva said. 'When it was 4-1, it could have been 5-0, and the game at 4-2 was tight. In the next two games I had advantages.
'It gets to a point where sometimes it's a little bit luck. When it was 4-3, she breaks her racquet, and you usually don't lose those points.'
Maleeva fought off a break point at 4-4 when Sanchez Vicario mishit a forehand. The game went to deuce and Maleeva had three advantage points before finally winning the game on a forehand volley to go ahead 5-4.
Maleeva broke Sanchez Vicario in the final game of the match when she hit and overhead for a winner.
'It's very difficult against Aranxta because she doesn't do much with the ball,' Maleeva said. 'You have to create shots or rally for a long time, but she doesn't just miss.'
Maleeva and Sanchez Vicario have met once before in the quarterfinals of the 1988 Eckerd Open. Sanchez Vicario won 6-2, 6-2.
'She played really good and move the ball really well,' Sanchez Vicario said. 'She changed her game a little bit since the last time we played. She's more aggressive.'
Sanchez Vicario said she's pleased with her performance and views it as a learning experience.
'I gave everything I had to give,' she said. 'I'm very happy. I played well.'
Both Maleeva and Sanchez Vicario will compete in the Family Circle Magazine Cup in Hilton Head, S.C., this week.