WASHINGTON, DC, USA - There's something about the Citi Open for Andrea Petkovic.
The unseeded German knocked off her second straight seed in the U.S. capital on Friday afternoon, and became the first player through to the semifinals with a 6-3. 2-6, 7-6(8) win over No.6 seed Belinda Bencic.
The former World No.9 led 5-2 in the final set tiebreak, after rallying from 4-2 down in the deciding set itself, but ultimately needed to save three match points before she converted her first to seal her spot in the final four of the International-level event for the second straight year.
The 2013 runner-up at the Citi Open previously rallied from a set down to defeat No.2 seed Sloane Stephens on Thursday, and scored her first-ever win against Bencic.
"I thought I was really solid throughout the whole match," Petkovic said. "She played really well in the second set...and then in the third set, it was just a momentum swing, up-and-down and emotions.
"I just tried to stay in the moment and within myself, and do the things I needed to do."
The No.6 seed was the beneficiary of a walkover in her second-round match, and as a result, hadn't taken the court since finishing off a rain-delayed first round on Tuesday in waterlogged Washington.
The Swiss No.1 got off to a quick start against last year's semifinalist and the former World No.9, as she was the first of the two players to score a break of serve in the third game of the opener.
However, Bencic would drop the next four in succession, and after a brief shower stopped play at set point while Petkovic served for the opener, the German quickly wrapped up a one-set lead upon resumption.
"It is a difficult thing to do and when the rain came I was up 5-3 serving 40-30 and when the rain came,we left,the set was not finished," she said.
"I just replayed the serve in my head over and over again, not even willingly, kept seeing all of the options I wanted to do. The thing is you build up so much tension by doing that, that when you win the set, I kind of had a let down in the second set. It’s not easy, but it can have a positive effect as well."
After losing her first set in five played against Petkovic, Bencic rebounded with aplomb. The former World No.7 broke the German in three of her four service games in the second set, winning five of six games from early parity to stretch the match to a decider.
Once there, it seemed as though Petkovic gained the upper-hand by winning a pair of lengthy games in the set's middle staged to establish a break advantage.
The German sealed the first break of the final set on her second break point in a game which went to four deuces, before saving a break point herself en route to consolidating.
Nonetheless, Bencic was not yet ready to see her time in Washington come to an end, as she came through a battle on serve which would've seen Petkovic serve for the match. The Swiss saved three break points in the seventh game, which kicked off a run of three straight to her side of the scoreboard.
Petkovic twice served to stay in the match, and delivered with the loss of just three points comebined, to send the quarterfinal into its winner-take-all-conclusion.
"[Saving match points] gives you a strange boost of confidence. You’re a dead man walking and then all of a sudden, it just revives you," she said.
"Two days ago, I was down against Sloane [Stephens] a set and a break and came back from that. Today in the most crucial moment, I was facing match point, and I did not feel so badly about myself. I had this boost of confidence that I did turn a match around before."
The 30-year-old German will next face the winner of the match between No.8 seed Yulia Putintseva and Svetlana Kuznetsova.