TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - Top seed Viktoria Kuzmova had to come back from a set down and save match point to get past an inspired Greeet Minnen, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(7) and move into the quarterfinals of the Tashkent Open.
The Slovak had come into the Uzbekistan capital looking for consistency - and to halt a four-match losing streak dating back to the second round of Palermo in July.
“It's an important win for me,” Kuzmova told Tennis Uzbekistan’s Sunder Iyer. “I didn’'t do well in earlier weeks and been losing matches, so it was important for me to win today. I'm happy to win two matches in a row.”
Having started the first set with an early break and a 5-2 lead, Kuzmova saw the score slip away from her as Minnen came charging back.
Her frustration mounted as Minnen stole away the first set 7-5, and continued to pile on the pressure as the Belgian opened the second set with an early break. Minnen lead 3-1, looking set to cruise into the quarterfinals, before Tomova raised her level and reeled off five games in a row to take the set 6-3.
With both players dialed in, there was not much to separate Kuzmova and Minnen. The top seeded Slovak had to hold her nerves at 6-5, when Minnen fought her way to match point. But Kuzmova bounced back emphatically, forcing the tiebreak. Kuzmova took her third match point with a smart dropshot to claim the match after two hours and 28 minutes.
“Minnen played unbelievably well and didn't give me a free points,” Kuzmova said. “I had to fight for every point. She really rallied well from the baseline and didn't make errors. I'm happy to come through.”
Meanwhile, it was a mixed bag of fortunes for the former Tashkent Open champions in action on Wednesday, including No.2 seed Margarita Gasparyan, the defending champion, Pauline Parmentier, Margarita Gasparyan, Sorana Cirstea and Kristyna Pliskova.
The unseeded Danka Kovinic sprung the biggest upset of the day over No.2 seed Gasparyan, taking down last year’s winner 7-5, 6-4.
“I'm very happy with my win, but I didn't play well I could have played better," Kovinic said after the win. “Margarita is consistent player, but I tried to take control of the match. I put pressure on her backhand and that worked fo me today.”
She added, “I have not played Top 100 players for a long time now, and happy to come back. My aim is to get into the Top 100 and this win will help me for sure.”
2007 champion Parmentier upset the No.7 seed Tima Babos, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in almost two and a half hours to reach the quarterfinals.
“I served well today and didn't get easy points, but happy to get the last eight,” Parmentier said.
Recalling her moment of victory in Taskhent - now 12 years ago - Parmentier said, “How time flies! I would like to go all the way this year."
“I have been playing for long now and its not easy to be in the Top 100. I'm getting old but my spirit remains,” she smiled.
Sorana Cirstea, who won here in 2008, came back against Ysaline Bonaventure, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to edge through in two hours and 14 minutes. The 2016 champion Pliskova also had to make a comeback in three sets to reach the quarterfinals. Adding a bit of serve and volley to her game, Pliskova fought past Katarzyna Kawa 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 to advance.