SYDNEY, Australia - Timea Bacsinszky is through to her first quarterfinal at the Sydney International after battling past local hope Samantha Stosur in a tough three-setter.
Bacsinszky, who didn’t win a WTA main draw singles match last year until Tianjin after injury woes derailed her season, has already made the perfect start to 2019, coming back from a set down to oust the former finalist Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
Despite her snakebitten 2018 season, Bacsinszky was singled out as a player to watch on the 2019 WTA Scouting Report after putting together a late-season rise to reach the Tianjin Open semifinals.
Playing in Sydney with a Protected Ranking of No.23, Bacsinszky proved herself right away by stunning No.9 seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 to claim her first win at this event in emphatic style.
Up against Australian Stosur in the second round, Bacsinszky saw the same pattern emerge, dropping the first set in a close battle before rallying to claim the next two with confidence. Bacsinszky fired 26 winners past Stosur with 37 unforced errors, meanwhile the Aussie struck 27 winners but they were undone by her 59 unforced errors - a bulk of which came during the nervy final set.
The Swiss got on board quickly in the opening set, breaking Stosur in the first game and grinding out a service hold to back it up. But the former US Open champion , Stosur found a way to fight back, employing her heavy pace on the return to earn a break to love to tie things up at 3-3.
Stosur saw set points slip away at 5-4, where she had a break chance but Bacsinszky held firm. The Swiss player couldn’t pull off the escape act again a few games later though, as Stosur finally earned the decisive break at 7-5 - converting her fifth chance to dodge the tiebreak and close out the set.
The second set started in the same manner as the first, with Bacsinszky grabbing and early break to lead 1-0 - but this time Stosur slammed the door shut right away at 1-1 to keep them level. Stosur’s intensity seemed to drop as the match went on and Bacsinszky took her chances a few games later to once again take the lead at 3-2. She dropped just one point on her serve after that, closing out the set comfortably to take them into a decider.
Stosur once again found herself having to play catch-up after going down an early break, fighting back to 2-2. But she couldn’t keep it up as the unforced errors wracked up, and Bacsinszky reeled off the last four games in a row to claim the victory after two hours and 37 minutes.
Up next, Bacsinszky will face the winner between qualifiers Priscilla Hon, of Australia, or the fast-rising Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the quarterfinals.
More to follow...