Maleeva holds off five match points to upset fifth-seed Panova

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The Independent Online

Former world number-four Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria staved off five match points today to stun fifth-seeded Russian Tatiana Panova, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6) and book a quarter-final berth in the $112,500 Volvo Women's Open in Pattaya, Thailand.

Former world number-four Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria staved off five match points today to stun fifth-seeded Russian Tatiana Panova, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6) and book a quarter-final berth in the $112,500 Volvo Women's Open in Pattaya, Thailand.

The Bulgarian, the youngest of the Maleeva sisters, played with brains when trailing the Russian 6-5 in the third set and again at 6-5 in the tie-break, combining lobs and drop shots to win after 2 hours, 33 minutes of play.

Maleeva, aged 24, peaked at world number-four in 1996 but is unseeded in a WTA event where Croatia's Silvia Talaja, ranked 31st in the world, is top seed. Panova's world ranking is 44.

Maleeva was plagued by a shoulder injury in 1998 and was out of the tour for 15 months until May. She then suffered another eight-week layoff due to a stress fracture in her left arm, nearly ending her career.

"I have so many injuries and I felt so depressed," she said. "When I returned to the tour, I had to start it from zero and fight my way to number 130 now. However, I try to have a good attitude."

Being at the bottom made her tougher and fight harder, she said. Her goal is to play nonstop and get back into the top 50 next year, but she needs to be injury-free to do it.

Panova was disappointed: "Only one to finish the match, but I just could not do it. I was upset and could not do anything again."

Frenchwoman Emilie Loit came behind from a lapse in the first set to upset third-seeded Sylvia Plischke of Austria, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Seventh-seeded Denisa Chladkova of the Czech Republic breezed into the quarter-finals when American Erika De Lone forfeited with a stomach problem. Italian Rita Grande, a semi-finalist in Kuala Lumpur last week, outclassed Russian Anastasia Myskina, 6-2, 7-5.

Singles Second round

Magdalena Maleeva, Bulgaria, def. Tatiana Panova (5), Russia, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6)Denisa Chladkova (7), Czech Republic, def. Erika De Lone, U.S., withdrewRita Grande, Italy, def. Anastasia Myskina, Russia, 6-2, 7-5Emilie Loit, France, def. Sylvia Plischke, Austria, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2

Doubles First round

Laurence Courtois, Belgium, and Alicia Molik, Australia, (3), def. Tathiana Garbin, Italy, and Andreea Vanc, Romania, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.Eugenia Koulikovskaya, Russia, and Patricia Wartusch, Austria, def. Olga Barabanschikova, Belorussia, and Nicole Pratt, Austria, 6-2, 6-4.Yuka Yoshida, Japan, and Tina Krizan, Slovenia, (1) def. Benjamas Sangaram, Thailand, and Iroda Tulyanagova, Uzbekistan, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8)

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