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Vicario outclases Maleeva to take German Open

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

(c) The Associated Press, 1995

BERLIN (05-21-95) -- Arantxa Sanchez Vicario left no doubt she is ready to defend her French Open title after outclassing Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva on Sunday to win the German Open.

The top-seeded Spaniard dominated from the start against the World No. 9, winning 6-4, 6-1. She hammered Maleeva with perfect passing shots, drop shots and unanswerable volleys at the net.

"It's a dream come true for me. I played super," the Spaniard said. "I'm in good form and the win gives me a lot of confidence for the French Open."

Sanchez Vicario joined an exclusive list of winners at the tournament -- a clay court tuneup French Open -- during the past 11 years. Only Chris Evert, Monica Seles and Steffi Graf have won during that period.

The world No. 1 also proved she's ready for the French Open -- the world's top clay court tournament, a Grand Slam event which begins May 29.

Maleeva, the fifth-seeded player, had fought her way into the finals by winning ousting Australian Open winner Mary Pierce of France and No. 5 Natasha Zvereva of Belarus.

But it was Sanchez Vicario who claimed every big point Sunday.

The Spaniard broke the Bulgarian's serve to take a 3-2 lead in the first set. Afterward, she allowed the youngest of the three tennis-playing Maleeva sisters to mount only one challenge.

Maleeva trailed 3-4 in the first set. She had two break balls against Sanchez-Vicario, who pressured her into two forehand errors and hit a passing shot that nicked the line to save the game.

"I played well, but full credit to Arantxa -- she was excellent," Maleeva said.

Sanchez-Vicario had twice fallen in the German Open final to Graf, an eight-time winner of the tournament.

"I don't know, but they say the third time is the charm," the 23-year-old Spaniard said.

Although 17 of the world's top 20 players had signed up for the event, the German Open this year was plagued by stormy weather and defections. The main dropout was Graf, who bypassed the competitionm because of the flu.

The German superstar had dominated the tournament since she burst onto the international tennis stage as a 14-year-old, reaching the finals in 1985 before being stopped by Evert.

Sanchez-Vicario earned $148,500 for the title. Maleeva took got $59,500.