ACAPULCO, México - Alizé Cornet showed the fight that once took her as high as No.11 in the world on Thursday night, saving nine match points and battling over three and a half hours to beat Lourdes Domínguez Lino in the quarterfinals of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL. Next up? Sara Errani.
No.3 seed Cornet and No.7 seed Domínguez Lino may have been playing for the first time but they seemed to know each other's every move in a grueling duel with long rallies and frequent momentum swings. It was Domínguez Lino who had control early, going up 63 30, but Cornet was prepared.
"I was physically ready for this fight," she would say later. "I knew it would be a long match."
With some impressive footspeed, rock solid consistency and pulling the trigger on her big forehand when she needed to, Cornet clawed her way back from the deficit, eventually fighting off a total of nine match points - two down 6-5 in the second set, four in the second set tie-break, then another three down 6-5 in the third set - and emerging with a three-hour, 33-minute, 36 76(10) 76(2) triumph.
"My God, I just cannot believe I won this match," an exhausted Cornet said afterwards. "I saved I don't know how many match points, I think eight - it was such a great fight, and such a great match.
"Lourdes was one point away from having the victory many times, but I just kept fighting and stayed very focused on every point. I had to dig very deep inside of me to find the power to win this match.
"Now I really have to focus on my recovery for the semifinals tomorrow, whoever I play."
Errani, the top seed and defending champion in Acapulco, battled past No.5 seed Kiki Bertens in the last match of the day, 64 64. The World No.8 wrapped up the victory very late - 12:52am, to be exact.
Errani and Cornet have played against each other twice before, splitting those meetings, 1-1.
The other semifinal will be an all-Spanish affair between No.2 seed Carla Suárez Navarro and Sílvia Soler-Espinosa. Suárez Navarro was the first to advance, losing the first set and fighting back from a break down in both the second and third sets to win a three-hour, three-minute marathon against No.6 seed Francesca Schiavone, 67(5) 64 62; Soler-Espinosa rolled past Karin Knapp in straights, 62 62.
Suárez Navarro hasn't just won all four previous meetings against Soler-Espinosa, she has won them all in straight sets. Soler-Espinosa will also be playing in the very first WTA semifinal of her career.