NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - Ekaterina Makarova is through to her third career quarterfinal at New Haven - and her first of the season - after coming back from a set down against Magdalena Rybarikova at the Connecticut Open.
Makarova needed over two hours and had to wait out multiple rain delays, but she pulled off the comeback to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
“Rybarikova is a big server, she mixes up a lot of different shots so it’s always tough to play against her,” Makarova told press afterwards. “It’s always tough to find your rhythm to show your best tennis.
“Today was a very good win for me.. it was very important to stay focused.”
The Russian came into the match with a great record against top players - she owns four Top 20 and three Top 10 wins so far this year, including victories over World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki at Wimbledon and last round’s upset over Karolina Pliskova, the No.4 seed. But she had only been able to string back-to-back match wins two times this season, most recently at Cincinnati where she reached the third round.
Makarova created a pair of break chances in Rybarikova’s first service game, but wasn’t able to convert as Rybarikova employed her signature mix of slices and variety to escape. The Slovakian responded strongly to capitalize on a spate of loose errors and reel off five games in a row, comfortably close out the opening set.
This time in the second set, Makarova took her chances to grab an early break, getting ahead 3-1. But just as Rybarikova fought her way back to break point in the next game, the rain that had been threatening overhead finally came down, suspending play for about 40 minutes.
Upon resumption, Makarova found her range to fight off two break points and serve out the next game to love to extend her lead 5-2. She covered the court and cut Rybarikova off at the net to take the set and send the match into a decider.
Makarova got ahead early with a pair of powerful forehands, breaking at 2-1. Her powerful lefty serve was firing in the final games, dropping just four points across four service games. She was three points away from the match at 5-3 when rain stopped play once more. But she got the job done a few minutes later, breaking to love to seal her spot in the quarterfinals.
“The first rain delay after the first set was definitely helping me,” Makarova admitted. “I was kind of in a rush in my head, and I couldn’t calm down and play point by point. But at that moment during the little break I was just sitting there thinking about what I need to change, how I need to play. And when we started again I was a little bit more quiet and relaxed. I started understanding what I had to do, and it worked out much better.”
Up next, Makarova plays No.5 seed Julia Goerges in the next round as she seeks her first New Haven semifinal - and the first semifinal of the season. She leads the German 1-0 in the pair’s head-to-head record.