MONTERREY, Mexico - No.9 seed Marie Bouzkova secured her first quarterfinal berth of the season with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Slovak qualifier Anna Karolina Schmeidlova on Wednesday afternoon at the Abierto GNP Seguros.
Bumped up to seeded position only after the pre-tournament withdrawal of expected No.3 seed Yulia Putintseva, the Czech has taken full advantage of her pole position this week, having dropped just 11 games across four sets to beat two players from neighboring Slovakia in her first two rounds.
After a 6-4, 6-2 win over lucky loser Kristina Kucova in Monday's opening round, the World No.57 was equally clinical in dispatching a qualifier in Schmiedlova, who battled for two-and-a-half hours and came from a set down to beat Venus Williams in her own first round.
From 3-3 in the opening set, after the two players traded early breaks of serve, Bouzkova won nine of the next 10 games to complete the victory and used a patented brand of strong defense and counter-punching to earn an 82-minute win.
"I'm really happy with my performance today," Bouzkova said on-court after the match. "I think I played well. The conditions couldn't have been any better today, even though it was a little windy in the end.
"She's a great opponent and a very great fighter, so it wasn't easy to close out the match."
Each player saved three break points in the match, but it was efficiency on converting more opportunities that also helped Bouzkova's cause in the first-ever meeting between the two players.
"We actually were saying that she was another opponent, a similar player, to the Slovakian girl that I played in the first round," Bouzkova added.
"I had the same tactics. I knew we'd have long rallies, but I had to be aggressive to win the match."
She went 5-for-8 on break points when given looks in Schmiedlova's service games, while limiting the World No.199 to just one break, which came at love to level the first set at 3-3. From there, Bouzkova re-asserted her authority with a second break in the opener, and she cruised through to a one-set lead with just one point lost in her next two service games.
The Czech rolled to a 6-4, 4-0 lead early in the second set, and quelled any chance of another mid-set comeback by the 25-year-old Slovak by battling through her toughest hold of the match in the set's fourth game. Taken to deuce four times, Bouzkova saved three break points in the game before ultimately wearing down the Slovak's resistance from then on.
With the victory, Czech sealed back-to-back main draw victories at WTA level for the first time this season, and for a berth in her first semifinal since her breakout run at the Rogers Cup last August, she will face either No.8 seed Wang Yafan of China or Aussie lucky loser Astra Sharma.
"I've felt really good in both my matches here," Bouzkova said. "I'm extra-happy that it's here in Mexico because I always love to play here. I always get a lot of love, a lot of support from all the people, so it's extra-special to be in the first quarterfinals here.
"I think I'm just trying to improve every day, and I'm happy to be playing every single week at WTA tournaments, and getting the chance to play against the best players in the world. I don't have any pressure right now, so I'm enjoying it."
Also advancing to the quarterfinals in the afternoon session was Swedish No.6 seed Rebecca Peterson, who edge Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko, 7-6(2), 7-5, in a tough two-setter that nonetheless lasted two hours and four minutes.