BOGOTA, Colombia - No.11 seed Lara Arruabarrena looked right at home at her happiest hunting grounds in Bogota, needing two sets against Italian qualifier Jasmine Paolini to reach the Claro Open Colsanitas quarterfinals for the sixth time in her career.
There’s just something about Bogota that brings out the Spaniard’s best tennis: she lifted her first WTA title here in 2012, and she’s made a run to the final the last two years in a row. Outside of the Colombian capital, it’s a different story: Arruabarrena has won just one title outside of Bogota, in Seoul in 2016.
Coming into Bogota, Arruabarrena hadn’t won a WTA main draw match since last year’s US Open. She snapped the dismal streak in emphatic style at her favorite tournament, coming back from a set down to defeat Timea Babos 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1. Today’s victory against Paolini marks the first time in a year that Arruabarrena has won back-to-back matches - since last year’s run to the Bogota final.
Arruabarrena found herself having to make another comeback on Thursday against Paolini, as the Italian got ahead to an early break and built up a 5-2 lead, but the former champion rallied to record a 7-6(4), 6-1 victory in an hour and 19 minutes.
“She actually started playing really well, hitting super hard and putting all of the balls in,” Arruabarrena said. “I just accepted that, and I was playing solid myself. In the end, I managed to turn it around and win again.”
The win improves on Arruabarrena’s stellar here here, now owning a 22-5 main draw win-loss record.
But despite Arruabarrena's history, it was Paolini who started out the match firmly in control as the Spaniard struggled to get off of the ground. She got off to a strong start with an early break at 2-0, consolidating for a 3-0 lead. A couple of loose errors allowed Arruabarrena to strike back at 3-2, but Paolini reestablished her lead a game later and powered ahead to a 5-2 lead, looking ready to close in on the set.
But Arruabarrena had other ideas. She came storming all the way back, reeling off four games in a row to earn her first lead of the match at 6-5. Paolini was able to halt her streak and send them into a tiebreaker, which was just as tightly contested as the rest of the set. Every single point went to the server except one, with Arruabarrena claiming the decisive minibreak at 5-3 and powering ahead to take the set.
After such a spirited fight in the first set, the wind seemed to leave Paolini’s sails in the second as Arruabarrena got going. The Spaniard continued her momentum to earn an early break and lead 3-0, and another break at 5-1 sealed the contest in straight sets.
Up next, Arruabarrena will take on the No.5 seed Tamara Zidansek as she seeks a spot in the semifinals. Zidansek dropped just two games against Sachia Vickery, winning 6-2, 6-0 earlier in the day.
“I’m going to try to do the same thing that I’ve been doing in the previous two matches,” Arruabarrena said. “I’m just going to play my game and try to be solid - that’s the most important thing here.”