ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Lara Arruabarrena pulled off a stunning upset in the first round of the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup on Tuesday, as the World No.117 knocked top seed and fellow Spaniard Carla Suárez Navarro out of the tournament, 6-4, 7-5.
“We know each other pretty well," Arruabarrena told the press, after the match. "We know how we play – we’ve practiced many, many times because we both live in Barcelona – and we both knew it was going to be a tough match because both of us really like clay. You prepare like you would for any other match.”
Arruabarrena had won her only prior meeting with Suárez Navarro, having emerged triumphant in a match on grass in Mallorca last year. The 27-year-old improved her undefeated record against her compatriot to 2-0 after claiming another victory after an hour and 28 minutes of play.
More winners came off the racquet of Arruabarrena during the match, by 22 to 18. Suárez Navarro also fired more unforced errors on the day, with 29 miscues compared to just 24 for Arruabarrena. The lower-ranked Spaniard also broke the top seed four times in the match, while only dropping serve twice.
Suárez Navarro came straight to the stadium on Monday night, following a long weekend of Fed Cup duty. Arruabarrena thought that worked in her favor.
“I knew it could be an advantage for me – probably she was a little bit more tired than me because I was already here practicing for four days and she came yesterday, so I took advantage of this," Arruabarrena stated. "I was aware of this and I knew that she was likely to have more up and downs than I would. If I was focused I could take advantage of this.”
At the start of the match, Arruabarrena was coming out on top in a majority of the lengthy rallies, and she broke Suárez Navarro in the top seed’s first service game of the tilt. But the former World No.6 still had tricks up her sleeve, and used some beautiful backhands to break Arruabarrena when she was serving for the set and get back on serve at 5-4.
But Suárez Navarro’s comeback in the opening frame ended up being for naught. A deep service return which forced an error gave Arruabarrena double set point in the next game, and after a wide forehand by Suárez Navarro, Arruabarrena had eked out the one-set lead.
Suárez Navarro took early control of the second set, breaking at 1-1 and consolidating for a 3-1 lead. But the sturdy play by Arruabarrena rarely wavered on the day, and she broke the No.1 seed with a blistering winner to get level at 4-4.
It would end up being Arruabarrena’s moment, as she claimed two break points, which doubled as match points, at 6-5. Suárez Navarro saved the first with a powerful crosscourt forehand, but on the second, Arruabarrena fired a crosscourt winner of her own to seal the upset win.
Arruabarrena, who reached the semifinals in Bogota in her most recent event, will try to keep her Istanbul run going in the second round against Rebecca Peterson of Sweden. Peterson eliminated Turkish wild card Pemra Ozgen in the first round on Monday.