Helped by a controversial line call, second-seeded Steffi Graf of West Germany escaped an upset bid by seventh-seeded Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, Friday night to reach the semifinals of the $1-million Virginia Slims tennis championships at New York.
It was the second straight night that the line judges were involved in controversy in this season-ending tournament at Madison Square Garden.
In tonight's semifinals, Graf will meet fourth-seeded Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia, who beat sixth-seeded Claudia Kohde-Kilsch of West Germany, 6-3, 7-6.
Top-seeded Martina Navratilova will face fifth-seeded Pam Shriver in the other semifinal. Navratilova and Shriver won their quarterfinal matches Thursday.
Just as Hana Mandlikova had done the night before in her loss to Shriver, Maleeva claimed that she had been cheated.
After Maleeva twice fought back from a break down in the final set, Graf had another break point in the 11th game. During a long rally, a forehand from Graf appeared long, but there was no call.
Eventually, Maleeva hit a backhand into the net to give Graf the decisive break, and Graf served out the match.
After she was broken, Maleeva threw her racket in disgust, drawing a warning for racket abuse from Judy Popkin, the chair umpire.
"I tried to forget, and I think I did," Maleeva said of the non-call. "After was the most difficult moment, realizing they cheated me on the most important point.
"Six-five on my serve is a big difference than 6-5 for her. I have never been disappointed in this way. That's what hurts the most. I was running for 2 1/2 hours like crazy for nothing."
At Houston, Scott Davis defeated top-seeded Jimmy Connors, 6-2, 6-2, in the quarterfinals of a $279,000 WCT tournament. The loss eliminated Connors from the $500,000 Nabisco Masters Dec. 3-8 at New York.
Today, Davis will play Eliot Teltscher, who upset third-seeded Aaron Krickstein, 6-7, 6-2, 6-2, and sixth-seeded Slobodan Zivojinovic of Yugoslavia will take on Derrick Rostagno. Zivojinovic defeated Brad Pearce, 6-4, 6-4, while Rostagno beat Bill Scanlon, 6-2, 6-3.