NEW YORK, NOV. 15 -- It took her half the night, but second-seeded Monica Seles finally outlasted Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, to move into the semifinals of the Virginia Slims Championships.
The end fittingly came on a power play, when Sanchez, seeded fifth in this 16-player, season-ending tournament, took a second serve and blasted it into the net five minutes short of a three-hour match, then left the court to the cheers of the crowd. The fans at Madison Square Garden again roared their approval when Seles left.
On Saturday, Seles will face fourth-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez, who defeated No. 8 Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere, 6-2, 6-4, in tonight's second quarterfinal.
It took Sanchez seven set points before she wrapped up the first set in 67 minutes. Seles took even longer to capture the second set, finally closing it out on her 12th set point when the Spaniard hit a forehand wide.
By then, the match was 2 hours 14 minutes long, with no end in sight.
It was a best-of-one-set then. And, not surprisingly, the two traded service breaks to begin the third set.
Unlike the first two sets, when it appeared to be easier to break serve than hold, the two stayed on serve until the ninth game. That's when Seles broke at 30, then fought off a break point in the 10th game before winning the final three points to claim the victory.
Sanchez led 5-1 in the opening set before Seles won four consecutive games, pulling even on a break.
But the Spaniard broke right back to take a 6-5 lead. She then held from deuce to win the set.
Seles took four of the first five games in the second set before Sanchez recovered to level it at 5. In the 12th game, Seles had five set points, but Sanchez finally held to send it into a tiebreaker.