NEW YORK, NOV. 16 -- Steffi Graf breezed and Gabriela Sabatini struggled tonight to set up a renewal of their rivalry, this time in the semifinals of the Virginia Slims Championships.
Sabatini was victorious in the title match in the U.S. Open in September, but Graf has won their two meetings since.
Tonight Graf rushed past Katerina Maleeva, 6-3, 6-0. Sabatini then outlasted Conchita Martinez, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, in this 16-woman, season-ending tournament.
Second-seeded Monica Seles will meet fourth-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez in Saturday's other semifinal.
Where Graf needed 61 minutes to capture her quarterfinal match in the $3 million event, Sabatini took 53 minutes to win the first set and 1:57 for the match.
At first she appeared on the way to another Graf-like breeze. Sabatini began by breaking Martinez, then holding serve. But that was the only break in the set, and every point seemed a struggle.
"I think I was not moving the same way," Sabatini said. "I was getting to the ball a little late."
After Martinez stormed through the second set, Sabatini changed her game. No longer was she content to stay on the baseline and trade shots.
"I started to concentrate and be aggressive, and I took control of the match," she said.