WASHINGTON -- She's the No. 5 player in the world and the No. 3 seed in the Virginia Slims of Washington, but Mary Joe Fernandez found herself in a vulnerable spot when she lost the first three games of last night's match against Gigi Fernandez, and was facing break point in the fourth.
"I thought, 'It could be a quick one if I don't get on the scoreboard,' " Mary Joe Fernandez said. "She was playing well."
Mary Joe Fernandez avoided the quick exit, as she rallied to win that first set and then held off Gigi Fernandez in the third for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 quarterfinal win at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.
In other second-round matches yesterday, No. 6 seed Katerina Maleeva needed 2 hours, 35 minutes to hold off Pam Shriver, 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-1; No. 4 seed Jana Novotna handled Laura Gildemeister, 6-1, 6-1; and Judith Wiesner advanced by defeating Radka Zrubakova, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. No. 5 seed Zina Garrison defeated Magdalena Maleeva, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
In a quarterfinal match today, Maleeva will face Wiesner, with the winner to face Mary Joe Fernandez in the semifinals tomorrow. In other quarterfinals, Meskhi will play Novotna, and No. 2 -- and top seed -- Arantxa Sanchez Vicario will play Garrison.
The Fernandez matchup -- the first between the two, who are unrelated -- was by far the best matchup of the tournament thus far. Gigi Fernandez, who earlier this month won the Virginia Slims of Albuquerque, looked like a sure bet for an upset in taking the first three games.
"The last few matches I played I got up 4-0 and I was hoping the same would happen," said Gigi Fernandez, who was born in Puerto Rico. "When I got up 3-0, with break point I said, 'This is great.' I had a chance but I just didn't win it."
Mary Joe Fernandez won that game and the next two to tie the set at 3-3. That set up a classic seventh game when the two battled for 22 points and left the crowd awed by the series of great shots before Gigi Fernandez eventually won the game to go up 4-3. "If I would have won that game, I would have probably been able to go on a roll," said Mary Joe Fernandez of the long game. "It was frustrating because it was a long game and I had a lot of break points. She just hit some good shots on the break points."
But Mary Joe who was born in the Dominican Republic and now lives in Miami, rallied to win the next three games and the set.
Gigi Fernandez jumped out early in the second set, which she eventually won, 6-3. But, with the third set tied at three, Mary Joe Fernandez showed her poise in winning the next three games and the match.
"Just being [in those situations] and knowing what to do helped," Mary Joe Fernandez said of the close match. "I hung in there and just had to keep taking it to her. It was a good match overall."
In another well-played match, Shriver had perhaps one of her better matches since coming back from shoulder surgery a year ago in her loss to Maleeva. The 29-year-old Lutherville, Md., resident had seven aces, and break point against Maleeva at 5-5 in the first set. But Maleeva went on to win the game and the tie-breaker and, after dropping the second set, was able to outlast Shriver in the third.
"I needed some endurance in my arm to play a good third set," said Shriver, whose right arm and shoulder were iced heavily. "I don't think I served well, but I came up with enough big serves at the right time."
Shriver's fatigue was clearly visible in the deciding set as she had problems getting her first serve in and continually hit balls into the net. She double-faulted seven times in the match.
"The match took its toll. She played well, and this is one of the matches I need to dig out against a top player," Shriver said. "But I feel encouraged. I hit one [serve] 100 mph and said, 'Wow, I haven't done that' " since coming back.
Singles, second round
Jana Novotna (4), Czechoslovakia, def. Laura Gildemeister, Peru, 6-1, 6-1; Katerina Maleeva (6), Bulgaria, def. Pam Shriver, Lutherville, Md., 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-1; Leila Meskhi (7), Soviet Union, def. Anne Minter, Australia, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; Judith Wiesner, Austria, def. Radka Zrubakova, Czechoslovakia, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3; Zina Garrison (5), Houston def. Magdalena Maleeva, Bulgaria, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.