Eugenie Bouchard moved into the quarterfinals in Taipei City with a straight-set win over Ana Bogdan. Also, No.7 seed Magda Linette took out Johanna Larsson in a three-hour-plus barnburner.
WTA Staff
February 1, 2018

TAIPEI CITY, Chinese Taipei -- Eugenie Bouchard advanced to her first quarterfinal of the year at the Taiwan Open on Thursday, as the Canadian wild card squeaked by Romania's Ana Bogdan, 7-5, 7-5, in one hour and 48 minutes.

"It was a really tough match," Bouchard said on court, after the match. "[Bogdan] has a really solid game. I think we were both trying to be aggressive, trying to keep fighting. Even after losing all of those match points, I just had to keep fighting," admitted Bouchard, who squandered three match points at 5-3 in the second set before rallying to victory.

It was a solid performance by the Canadian No.1, as Bouchard finished the match with 28 winners, including three aces, and broke Bogdan seven times in the match. Bogdan, enjoying her first week ranked in the Top 100, had 16 winners in the match as well, and broke the Bouchard serve five times, but that was not enough to take a set from the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up.

Bouchard started the match as the stronger competitor, breaking Bogdan for an early 2-1 lead. But the aggressive style of play from the Romanian, fresh off a third-round appearance at the Australian Open, stymied Bouchard, and Bogdan got back on serve at 3-3.

That started a run of six consecutive breaks of service, before Bouchard was able to power through a love service game to take the first set. Bouchard had a slightly higher first service percentage and eked out a greater share of points on her first serve, which helped her to close out a contentious opening set.

Bogdan took the early lead in the second set, breaking Bouchard for a 2-0 advantage. The Canadian broke back immediately, though, and then fended off two break points to even the set at 2-2. Bouchard then broke again for a 4-3 lead, and held for 5-3, forcing Bogdan to serve to stay in the match.

Bouchard got to match point three times on the Bogdan serve at 5-3, but could not get over the finish line, and then quickly dropped her serve to allow Bogdan back on serve at 5-5, giving the Romanian a chance to push the match to a third set. But Bogdan swiftly dropped her serve one more time, and Bouchard would close out the victory on her fifth match point.

Bouchard will battle China's Wang Yafan for a spot in the semifinals. Wang ousted the No.8 seed, Pauline Parmentier of France, 6-3, 6-3.

Magda Linette (copyright Taiwan Open)
Magda Linette during her match against Johanna Larsson. (© Taiwan Open)

Meanwhile, No.7 seed Magda Linette of Poland had to fend off a remarkable comeback from Sweden's Johanna Larsson to advance to the quarterfinals, ultimately prevailing 6-1, 6-7(4), 7-6(3) in three hours and seven minutes.

"Johanna is always a tough opponent," Linette said on court, after the match. "I'm happy that I managed to keep my nerves and get the win today."

Linette held four match points in the second set before Larsson completed the comeback from 1-6, 1-4 down to send the match into a deciding third set. Linette then had to survive four match points in the decider before claiming a hard-fought victory.

“I was 4-1 up, but it was not easy," Linette elaborated to the press, after the match. "The score seems easy, but it was not an easy match until then. Then, Johanna started playing much better. I didn’t go for my shots, I stayed there, I slowed down. I paid my price in the second set, and I had to find my way again."

"It was very tough, because I was a little bit injured, so I’m glad I managed to turn it around," said Linette, who received treatment on her leg during the final set.

Linette, currently sitting at a career-high ranking of World No.60 after her first appearance in the third round of the Australian Open, outlasted Larsson behind 40 winners, to the Swede's 18, and converted 11 of the 17 break points she held in the match. Linette also had 58 unforced errors, but she was able to hold tight when it mattered and eke out the final-set tiebreak.

In the quarterfinals, Linette will face off against No.4 seed Timea Babos of Hungary, who defeated Slovenian qualifier Dalila Jakupovic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

"I had nothing to lose at this point, so I just decided to be more aggressive...I just tried to focus on my game and not the score.”
Magda Linette, on saving four match points, during her on-court post-match interview

A lengthy first point -- and game -- set the tone of the match, as tricky rallies and convoluted games became the norm. Linette tried to dominate by continually directing balls to the Swede’s backhand, taking the deep Larsson forehand out of play whenever she could. 

Linette survived three break points in the opening game of the match, finally holding after seven minutes, and raced to a 4-1 lead. Serving in that game, Larsson hit an errant backhand into the net, giving Linette another break point. Linette broke again with a superb crosscourt backhand, and she quickly served out the first set in the next game.

Linette had nine winners to Larsson's two in the opening set, and was 3-for-3 on break points. But the games were long and the Swede had four break points of her own. 

Read more: Babos bounds past Rodionova in Taipei City

In the second set, Larsson began to whip her forehand into the court more consistently and with higher velocity, and unforced errors started to creep into Linette’s game as she neared the finish line of what seemed to be a routine victory.

Serving at 5-4, Linette reached match point behind her first ace of the match, but a forehand miscue eliminated that opportunity, and Larsson broke again for 5-5. Errors by the Swede gave Linette a second chance to serve for the match at 6-5, and another forehand error from Larsson gave Linette triple match point. But more power hitting from Larsson forced the Pole into mistake-strewn play, sending the set into a tiebreak.

In the breaker, Linette once again held a lead, jumping ahead to 4-2 behind strong hitting from the forehand side. But after the change of ends, the nerves kicked in for the Polish player one more time, and Larsson reeled off five straight points to clinch the set, sealing it when another Linette forehand error went wide.

Larsson appeared to take over the momentum, breaking Linette in the opening game of the set. The players exchanged breaks before the Swede claimed her first shot at triple match point on Linette's serve at 3-5. But Linette was playing more aggressively at this stage, moving forward as much as she could, and held on, forcing Larsson to serve for the match.

In the next game, great defense by Larsson forced a forehand error from Linette, giving the Swede a fourth match point, but a stellar forehand volley by Linette erased it. Two more spectacular volleys by the net-rushing Pole led her to a break for 5-5, and once both players dropped serve in the next two games as well, the match fittingly moved into a deciding tiebreak.

In a moment of déjà vu, Linette led 4-2 in the final-set tiebreak, but this time, the Pole would not be denied. At 4-3, two unforced errors from the Swedish player gave Linette three more match points, and Linette only needed one, as a forehand winner square on the baseline completed a scintillating comeback, following her opponent's own comeback.