HUA HIN, Thailand – No.5 seed Magda Linette moved through to the quarterfinals of the GSB Thailand Open presented by E@ with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Peng Shuai.
A blustery wind made life difficult for both players and made serving conditions especially treacherous, but it was the WTA World No.42 who coped with the weather better to move into the last eight for the second successive year.
Both players had raced through their opening matches, but this was to prove an altogether more grueling affair. Indeed, the one-hour eight-minute opening set lasted longer than either players’ first-round encounter.
Linette, who celebrated her 28th birthday with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Kateryna Bondarenko on Tuesday, took the second in an altogether more comfortable manner as she found her range and hit an array of winners.
“I’m relieved because the first set was so tight. I managed to produce a couple of incredible shots at the very end of the first set and I’m glad I started the second set well,” she said.
“At the beginning, I was trying to play her game too much and then I slowed down. I realized that I needed to make her move a little bit more. I fought and managed to pull it through.”
A love service game from the Pole in the opening game of the match gave little clue as to the troubles both players would have on serve for the duration of the opening set, in which there were five breaks.
Linette at least received some respite when she made her first delivery in the opener, winning 71% of points in such circumstances. By contrast, Peng's figure was down at 55%.
It meant that the Chinese player was persistently under pressure, and while she was able to come through in several clutch situations on deuce, the constant questions being asked by her opponent ultimately found a crack.
Easy service games were hard to come by, so when Linette held for a second time to love when serving at 5-5, it pushed the pressure onto Peng. She seemed primed to answer perfectly as she moved into a 40-0 lead of her own, yet the 28-year-old fought back to force deuce.
A first set point may have been missed by Linette, but a second was brilliantly taken by an entirely unlikely crosscourt forehand winner, which zipped across the net and onto the tramline at a tight angle when the ball seemed to have passed her.
The first set in the bag, she quickly accelerated in the second, which started in an identical manner to the first, with Linette claiming the first six points.
Where the WTA No.106 was able to dig out a hold in the opener, though, she was unable to replicate that in the second and fell behind an early break that she was never able to make up.
A sizzling return winner brought a greater advantage for Linette, and holding a 5-1 lead she served out easily to seal a last-eight meeting with Wang Xiyu, who defeated Barbara Haas, 6-3, 6-4 earlier in the day.
“I’m expecting a tough match tomorrow and I know I’ll need to play my best,” she concluded.