LINZ, Austria - German qualifier Anna-Lena Friedsam kickstarted her comeback from a shoulder injury with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 upset over No.2 seed Belinda Bencic, advancing into the second round of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz.
A former World No.45, Friedsam missed much of last year due to the surgery required to heal that aforementioned injury, but the German is back to even better than her best in Linz, scoring her first career Top 10 win after one hour and 51 minutes on Centre Court.
Bencic has been in the midst of a career-revitalizing season after reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal and winning her second Premier 5 title earlier this season at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. While the Swiss youngster is aiming to secure one of the few remaining berths at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen, Friedsam has been toiling away on the ITF Pro Circuit, winning a title at the end of September in Roehampton after falling just short of the US Open main draw earlier this summer.
While the No.2 seed enjoyed the brighter start, it was Friedsam who caught fire when it mattered most, winning the final six games of the opening set to put the former World No.7 on the backfoot.
"I think it was a really good match from both of us," Bencic said after the match I think she just played incredibly well to have such a run. If she could play every day like this, that'd be amazing. I think I played very good, so there wasn't much I could do; maybe here or there, I could have done something different. Otherwise, I'm happy with the way I played."
Seemingly steadying in the second set, Bencic survived several long games to edge ahead and ultimately level the match behind two breaks of serve.
"I think there was a turning point in the second set, and so I was hoping she would drop her level a little bit. Obviously in the third set, she just played incredible."
Ultimately, however, Friedsam wouldn't be denied, racing ahead to a 5-1 lead and serving out the upset to love.
In all, Friedsam and Bencic both engineered 11 break points throughout the three tumultuous sets, but the German edged just ahead with six breaks to five, all while maintaining a superior first serve percentage - winning 61% of points behind it.
Standing between Friedsam and a third WTA quarterfinal of the season - and first on hardcourts since 2016 - is rising Kazakh star Elena Rybakina, who dismissed Serbian qualifier Nina Stojanovic in straight sets.