HOUSTON, TX, USA -- Peng Shuai's comeback to the WTA is starting off with a bang at the Oracle Challenger Series Houston WTA 125K event, as the Chinese player overcame No.1 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, to move into the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Peng, who reached a career-high ranking of World No.14 in 2011, is playing her first event since falling to Samantha Stosur in the first round of Wimbledon four months ago. Currently ranked No.296, the former top-ranked Chinese player needed two hours and 23 minutes to outlast former World No.7 Bencic. Peng will now face 16-year-old American Whitney Osuigwe in the final eight.
38th-ranked Bencic controlled the first set, breaking Peng twice behind brilliant backhands. But Peng fought back in the second set, going for broke with aggressive service returns to open up a 4-0 lead, eventually taking the set 6-4 to level the match at one set apiece.
Bencic got the first break of the decider to lead 3-1 after an errant Peng backhand, but Peng clinched the very next game to get back on serve. At 5-5, Peng reached triple break point with a stunning backhand pass, and then took Bencic's serve at love. Serving for the match at 6-5, a backhand winner closed out the victory for Peng, who won two-thirds of points on Bencic's second service.
No.5 seed Fanny Stollar of Hungary also moved into the Houston quarterfinals, moving past American Jacqueline Cako, 7-5, 6-3, in one hour and 31 minutes. In the opening frame, Cako led 40-0 while serving at 5-6, before Stollar fought back in that game to break for the one-set lead on her seventh set point. Stollar then won five of the last six games to set up a match against No.4 seed Jessica Pegula.
American qualifier Lauren Davis also entered the last eight, upsetting her 9th-seeded countrywoman Nicole Gibbs, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 after nearly two hours of play. Former Top 30 player Davis won 75 percent of her first-service points in the deciding set to eke out the win.