LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Daniela Hantuchova may be appearing at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open for a 10th time this year, but for the first set and a half of her opening round match on Wednesday she looked like a wide-eyed debutante.
Recent months have not been easy for Hantuchova, with the past five tournaments bringing a solitary victory, and when she dropped a one-sided opening set to Arantxa Rus, this dismal run looked all set to continue. But, then, just as time appeared to be running out, the Slovak conjured up the most remarkable of turnarounds.
Serving at 15-40, 4-4, Hantuchova reeled off eight of the next nine points to snatch the set and with it all the momentum. From that point on, the result was never in doubt as a shell-shocked Rus was powerless to stop Hantuchova wrapping up a 36 64 61 victory.
"I made it a little bit difficult for myself today, but I'm happy with the way I kept fighting and eventually turned it around," Hanutchova said. "I was making way too many errors at the beginning, rushing and going for winners I shouldn't really have gone for.
"Once I found my rhythm in the second set, I was slowly getting on top of her and I did well to win that game at 4-4. In the third set I was playing my best tennis finally and really starting to dominate."
Meeting Hantuchova for a place in the last eight will be in-form Kirsten Flipkens. After troubled first half of 2012, Flipkens has been playing the best tennis of her career over the past few months and Hantuchova is well aware of the danger she poses.
"She played very well last week and also in Québec City before that," Hantuchova added. "I think indoors suits her game - she has got very good hands and is very talented - and it's going to be a very good test that I'm looking forward to."
Waiting in line for the winner is Lourdes Domínguez Lino, who, like Flipkens, is enjoying an end-of-season flourish. Domínguez Lino arrived in Luxembourg on the back of a confidence-boosting run in Beijing, and she booked her quarterfinal spot with an impressive 62 63 win over Magdalena Rybarikova.
The day's only other second round encounter saw Lucie Hradecka brush aside qualifier Annika Beck, 61 61, while Andrea Petkovic, Anne Keothavong and Ksenia Pervak triumphed in the three outstanding matches from the opening round.