MARRAKECH, Morocco - When slow red clay is combined with altitude and the balls flying a little bit, sometimes consistency and variety trump power - and that was a major theme on Quarterfinal Friday at the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, as four of the most tenacious and crafty WTA vets withstood some big hitting to move through to the semifinals of the International-level tournament.
"It was a big fight, mentally - we've played each other like five times already," Minella commented. "I played some very good tennis in the first set, then a little crush down in the second, but then I tidied it up in the third. In the end it was just a mental battle, and I'm happy that I won the match finally.
"I feel tired now, but I'll get some rest and treatment and I'll be ready to go again tomorrow!"
"She's playing well and she won here last year, and it was a really tough match, so I'm happy that I won," Domínguez Lino said. "I just tried to play my game. I know she probably doesn't like my game too much - and it worked. Making the semifinals here is great for me and we'll see what happens."
Domínguez Lino beat Minella in their only previous meeting, at Bogotá two years ago. And that has a lot of relevance, as that tournament has similar conditions - slow red clay combined with altitude.
"I think I played a solid match - I did exactly what I've been doing all week," Scheepers said. "I'm really happy the way I'm playing, being solid and consistent and making opponents work for every point.
"I hope to keep playing this way moving forward."
Next up for Scheepers will be No.6 seed Francesca Schiavone, who won a two-hour, 11-minute grinder against No.3 seed Alizé Cornet, 64 64. The rallies were long, the games were long and the sets were especially long - the first set lasted 63 minutes, the second 69 - but in the end Schiavone kept her head-to-head hold on Cornet going, improving to 9-1 against her (and now winning eight straight).
"In the first set I was really consistent and aggressive, but in the second set I went a little bit down," Schiavone said. "She started playing better and it was getting hard for me to finish the match. I could feel my energy was going down - I was waiting for something to happen instead of going for it like before. But at the important moments I was able to finish the match, so I'm happy at the end."
Schiavone beat Scheepers in their only previous meeting, at the US Open two years ago, but if that's anything to go by it will be a tough one - the Italian had to save match point to win that match.