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Manuela Comeback player of the year

When Manuela Maleeva sufered a debilitating injury, nearly quit the game and thand staged a courageous comeback last year, she did so in the traditional Maleeav style: quietly and with little fanfare

Enduring two years of pain in her left knee, Maleeva finally had surgery in January 1992. Her surgeon found that a small piece of her kneecap was missing - a congenital condition

After four months of physical therapy, she reached the semifinals of her first tournament, a clay court event in Barcelona. It was all downhill from there. "After that until Wimbledon I found that I had no idea how to play tennis", she says

Then came a disappointing third round loss at Wimbledon, after which she and her husband, decided she would finish the season and likely retire. "That relieved the pressure", she says " I just began trying to enjoy the good shots, the good points". She reached the final at the next tournament, in Kitzbuhel, Austria, and began playing what she calls some of the best tennis of her career. Her semifinal finish at the U.S. Open was her best Grand Slam showing ever, and three weeks later, she won the Bayonne, France, event.

Maleeva plans to play a full schedule this year, no doubt fighting her opponents as grittily as she did her own private battle of '92