PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - On Thursday morning, Ayumi Morita finally won her first round match at the PTT Pattaya Open after a three-day battle with Ana Ivanovic and the weather. A few hours later she was back on court to defeat Kimiko Date-Krumm and reach the quarterfinals.
Morita arrived in Thailand fresh from a confidence-boosting third round run at the Australian Open and not even the combination of top seed Ivanovic and the tropical rainstorms that have engulfed the Dusit Thani Hotel this week have managed to jolt her from her stride.
Ivanovic and Morita began late on Tuesday afternoon before torrential rain brought proceedings to a halt with the contest evenly poised at one set all. When they finally resumed on Thursday morning, the Japanese player caught the World No.13 napping with a break in the very first game.
This turned out to be the difference between the two as Morita held her serve - and nerve - to close out the match, 63 57 63.
"This normally doesn't happen, where one match lasts for three days, but I was ready for that," Morita said. "When I went on the court I just tried to stay aggressive and fight for every point until the end because she's a great player.
"To be honest, I wanted to play yesterday, because if I played today I knew I would have to play two matches, but this is tennis and I'm ready for the next match."
And ready she was. Six hours later Morita emerged back out onto Court 1 to face evergreen compatriot Date-Krumm.
Like Morita, Date-Krumm enjoyed a fruitful few weeks in Australia, reaching the third round of a major for the first time since her return to the tour five years ago. And when she took the first set and went a break up in the second, she looked well set for a 10th win of the season.
Morita, though, had other ideas, taking four of the next five games to help force a decider, which she promptly raced through in under half an hour. Her reward for this 46 64 61 win is a quarterfinal with Nina Bratchikova, who advanced when her opponent, defending champion and No.6 seed Daniela Hantuchova, was forced to retire midway through their match after suffering from dizzy spells out on court.
Elsewhere, there was better news for last year's runner-up Maria Kirilenko, who overcame a slow start to defeat Thai wildcard Luksika Kumkhum. Ivanovic's exit left Kirilenko as the highest-ranked player in the draw, but she looked far from a Top 20 player early on, dropping serve four times en route to losing the first set.
The pattern continued in the second, which opened up with a flurry of further breaks. However, this belatedly roused the World No.15 into life and from there she never looked back, racing through the final two sets and towards a 57 62 62 victory.
"As long as I'm winning, I feel good," Kirilenko said. "The match was tough and the girl was playing good, especially in the first set, but still I was able to fight and come through and win the match."
Meeting Kirilenko in the quarterfinals will be fellow Russian Elena Vesnina, after she overcame Mathilde Johansson, 62 36 61. Also advancing were Sorana Cirstea, Sabine Lisicki and Marina Erakovic, who scored wins over Anastasia Rodionova, Alexandra Panova and Varatchaya Wongteanchai.