NANCHANG, China - No.3 seed Magda Linette's Jiangxi Open campaign continued in a positive vein of form with a 6-3, 7-5 second-round defeat of the unseeded Eri Hozumi.
The result marks the Pole's third quarterfinal showing of 2018 following runs to the last eight in Taipei City and Bogotá - the first time she has progressed to this stage three times in one season. It also continues Linette's historical strong showings in China: her biggest career title to date was at the Ningbo 125K in 2014. Hozumi, though, has to wait for her maiden quarterfinal.
"In the match, I just tried to speed up a little bit and be more aggressive," said Linette afterwards. "I tried to take over the control and avoid mistakes. I just want to make sure I can stay in that level for a long time. I do not focus much on the ranking itself. Everything is possible."
During a tightly contested first set, momentum drifted back and forth between the two players as they probed each other's games in their first career meeting. The World No.226 struck first, nailing a backhand laser down the line to break - but Linette immediately hit back, turning defence into offence before putting away a forehand to level the score.
The Bol 125K runner-up continued to live up to her higher ranking, maintaining good depth on her groundstrokes and punishing anything that landed short from Hozumi. The Japanese No.8, meanwhile, was particularly struggling on her forehand wing as she attempted to find a balance between staying aggressive and keeping the ball in play - and four consecutive errors from that side (out of the 28 she would commit over the course of the match) paved the way to another break of serve to go down 2-4.
Hozumi's return of serve was a threat throughout the match, with the 24-year-old capable of using all of Linette's pace to hit clean winners even off first serves - and one such lightning strike recaptured the break. But when called on to generate her own pace, Hozumi struggled to hit through her opponent - and, going for too much on the forehand again, conceded serve for a third time. This time, Linette raised her level, blasting stunning winners off both wings to capture the set.
Looseness crept into Linette's game in the second set, though, as the World No.80 lapsed into error - often after leading in games. Hozumi, sensing her chance, pounced with a spectacular inside-out forehand winner to break en route to a 4-1 lead.
But Linette was in no mood to let the match get stretched to a decider. Tightening up her game at this sign of danger, the 26-year-old began firing winners from both sides for a statement hold - and, relentlessly targeting the shakier Hozumi forehand, began to start dictating rallies and eliciting short balls once more. A deep return did the job on Linette's first break point of the set. The momentum now in her favor, the 2015 Tokyo runner-up captured the Hozumi serve again at 5-5, and served out undramatically to 15 to set up a quarterfinal encounter against the Australian Open junior champion, qualifier Liang En-Shuo.