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Raymond, Maleeva reach finals at Ameritech Cup

(c) Copyright The News & Observer Publishing Co., 1995

(c) The Associated Press, 1995

CHICAGO (02-11-95) -- Lisa Raymond is a surprise finalist at the Ameritech Cup. So is her opponent.

Raymond pulled off her third upset Saturday, ousting seventh-seeded Zina Garrison Jackson 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to move into the title match.

The former NCAA champion next will take on third-seeded Magdalena Maleeva, who herself pulled off a surprise by eliminating No. 2 Gabriela Sabatini 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Winner of the 1989 Chicago event when it was the Virginia Slims, Garrison Jackson lost the 2-hour, 3-minute match on a brilliant passing shot down the line.

Earlier in the week, Raymond, ranked 44th in the world, knocked off top-seeded Natasha Zvereva and No. 5 Amy Frazier, making this her best week on the WTA Tour.

"I remember I beat two top seeds (Magdalena Maleeva and Frazier) getting to my only other final in Lucerene last year," Raymond said.

Saturday's victory wasn't easy.

"I blew a big chance in the first set when we were tied at 5-5," Raymond said. "I missed an easy shot at 15-40 on her serve, which would have changed everything."

Raymond failed to hold serve in the 12th game, committing two of her 14 double faults.

In the second set, Raymond broke Garrison Jackson in the ninth game when Zina missed an overhead, then won the 10th game on another Garrison Jackson unforced error to even the match.

Service breaks by Raymond in the fifth and ninth games sent her into the title match.

Garrison Jackson wasn't that surprised with the outcome.

"I've been watching her and she's been playing really well since she beat Jana Novatna in Australia Open last month," Garrison Jackson said. "There were a couple of points in the second set I could have played better to make her nervous, but it didn't work out."

Raymond beat Maleeva in her only match against her at Lucerene, but said: "That was on clay, but I'll tell you this, it's going to be a great match on Sunday."

The 11th-ranked Maleeva utilized a vicious two-handed backhand to capture the first set, breaking Sabatini in the second game.

Sabatini broke Maleeva in the ninth game of the set with a great scoop passing shot to trail 5-4, only to give away the set with a double fault on set point in the 10th game.

In the second set, Sabatini took a 5-4 lead when Maleeva hit a return out of bounds and then won it with a 98 mph service winner on set point.

The match turned in the sixth game of the third set, when Sabatini double-faulted twice in losing her serve to fall behind 4-2.

The match ended when Sabatini netted a return.

The fact that the crowd in the UIC Pavilion was solidly behind Sabatini didn't bother Maleeva.

"In Bulgaria, they do not cheer for me either," she said. "If I'm in Germany, they cheer for the Germans, and it is no different in the States. Gabby is a crowd-pleaser."

Not having played Sabatini before on the WTA tour "did not bother me," Maleeva said. "I did have to hit balls deeper to keep her away from the net."

Maleeva, 19, has no fear following her sisters, Manuela and Katerina, into pro tennis. "I will be better than my sisters; I've been told that by mother and others."

Sabatini called the youngest Maleeva "a very good player, but I was very tired. She served very well, especially at the end. Today, I didn't serve very well. I didn't feel very comfortable. But in tennis today, you have to be prepared to play a very tough first round. You can never take it easy."