BOGOTÁ, Colombia -- 2012 champion Lara Arruabarrena of Spain picked up her first WTA main-draw match victory of the season in the first round of the Claro Open Colsanitas on Tuesday, moving past Timea Babos of Hungary, 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1, in a match interrupted by a two-hour rain delay.
“The first round is always tricky, because there’s altitude here, as we all know," Arruabarrena told the press, after her win. "Timea also serves really well, so that’s an advantage for her. But I managed to fight back, to come back after losing the first set, and I’m really happy for my win.”
No.11 seed Arruabarrena has had a substantial amount of success at the Bogota event. Along with the 2012 title, she reached the Bogota final in the last two years, falling to Francesca Schiavone in 2017 and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in 2018. The Spaniard has made at least the quarterfinals in all of her six prior appearances at the event.
Arruabarrena needed two hours and 12 minutes of play surrounding the first-set rain delay to overcome former Top player 25 Babos. Babos saw her ranking fall from World No.106 to No.142 on Monday after she was unable to defend her finalist points at the Abierto GNP Seguros last week.
The Spaniard was unfazed by the weather delay. “It happens a lot here, so I’m used to it," Arruabarrena stated. "I think it was better for me, because I came back and I found the rhythm.”
Current World No.106 Arruabarrena had 23 winners to 31 unforced errors in the clash, while Babos's 37 winners were undone by 48 unforced errors. Arruabarrena converted seven of her 12 break points, but Babos was only 4-for-9 in that metric.
The player from Hungary started the match strongly, using powerful groundstroke winners to open up a commanding 4-1 lead. But rain interrupted the match at that juncture, and upon resumption two hours later, Babos ceded her break lead in a heap of unforced errors.
Babos used a forehand crosscourt winner to break for 5-3, but Arruabarrena responded with down-the-line winners off of both wings to pull back on serve once more, as the players moved into a decisive first-set tiebreak.
In the breaker, Arruabarrena slammed winners from both sides to jump to a 4-1 lead before Babos powerfully reeled off five straight points to hit 6-4 and double set point. Forehands by the Spaniard saved both, and she held a set point of her own at 7-6. But Babos found the range on her groundstrokes to claim the final three points of the tiebreak and clinch the one-set lead.
The Spaniard, though, turned things around in the second set, breaking an error-prone Babos in the second game to claim a pivotal service break, and cruised to a 5-1 advantage. But Babos fought back, as the Hungarian got on a big-hitting winning streak once more to erase the two-break deficit and pull back on serve at 5-4.
However, all of Babos’s work was for naught, as a plethora of errors in her 5-4 service game gave Arruabarrena a set point. There, a long backhand by Babos negated her comeback and allowed Arruabarrena to level the encounter at one set apiece.
Arruabarrena had mainly one-way traffic in the deciding set. The Spaniard once again eased to a 5-1 lead, but unlike in the second set, she put the hammer down immediately. Arruabarrena served out the set in style and added another victory to her long list of them at a tournament where she greatly excels.
Arruabarrena will face Italian qualifier Jasmine Paolini in the second round. Paolini defeated lucky loser Francesca di Lorenzo of the United States in three sets on Monday.
“I know [Paolini] but I never played against her," said Arruabarrena. "I know she’s very aggressive and she goes for the shots, so I’ll try to be solid, as I was today, and I’ll try to do my game.”