Second-seeded Jana Novotna defeated Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 Friday night to claim a spot in the semifinals of the season-ending Chase Championships in New York.
Her semifinal opponent will be Irina Spirlea, a 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 winner over Mary Joe Fernandez.
Novotna is the top seed remaining after No. 1 Martina Hingis, No. 3 Lindsay Davenport, No. 4 Amanda Coetzer, No. 5 Monica Seles and No. 6 Iva Majoli were ousted earlier in the week.
Novotna and Sanchez Vicario are two veterans who know each other’s game well. They are old friends who once were doubles partners. And they are old foes, facing each other for the 18th time. Novotna, who has won the last four meetings, has defeated Sanchez Vicario 10 times overall.
Steffi Graf, who has slipped from the world’s top-ranked female tennis player to 16th, has withdrawn from three exhibition matches next month, as she recuperates from knee surgery.
Graf has been sidelined since June 3 after losing in the quarterfinals of the French Open. A week later, she had surgery on her left knee.
Graf plans to play in the Australian Open Jan. 19-Feb. 1, after competing in one of the pre-Open tournaments.
In Hartford, Conn., Rick Leach and Jonathan Stark advanced to the semifinals of The Phoenix/ATP Tour World Doubles by beating Don Johnson and Francisco Montana 6-3, 6-4.
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