STRASBOURG, France - Zarina Diyas is through to her first quarterfinal since January after knocking out the No.6 seed Timea Babos in a tough three set battle at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.
The Kazakh edged through the first set in a tiebreaker, but found herself having to fight back as Babos came roaring back, needing two hours and 50 minutes to notch the 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-2 victory.
“It was a really tough match today,” Diyas explained afterwards. “Timea played really well. She’s a great player with hard shots, her serve is tough and she moves really well.
“I had to work for every point, especially on clay which is not really my favorite surface. I tried to play really aggressive today, I stuck to my plan until the end. And it worked, so I’m really happy with the win today.”
After a tense start - which saw both players bring up break points as they tested each other’s game - it was Diyas who struck first, getting ahead 3-2. She struggled mightily when it came time to close out the set, letting a total of five set points across two games slip by.
Babos took advantage of the slump, breaking back at 5-5 and getting back in the set to force a tiebreaker. Diyas recovered strongly, grabbing a handful of mini-breaks to start out 4-0. Babos kept pushing, but the Kazakh finally managed to close it out, 7-2.
Diyas opened the second set with a break to lead 2-0, but things started getting complicated as Babos came roaring back. The Hungarian reeled off four games in a row to take the lead, and held on to the break to force a third set.
After a marathon start to the third set - the first three games alone lasted 36 minutes, featured eight break chances and went to deuce 14 times - Diyas emerged with the lead after five straight breaks of serve at 4-2. She needed three match points as Babos threatened to make another comeback, but she handled it confidently to make her way into the quarterfinals.
Diyas is set to take on a Russian player in the next round, as she awaits the winner between No.3 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Natalia Vikhlyantseva.