'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands -- Rising Kazakh teenager Elena Rybakina reached her second WTA singles quarterfinal of the season on Thursday with a 6-3, 6-4, upset of No.9 seed Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium at the Libéma Open on Thursday.
19-year-old Rybakina, currently ranked at a career-high World No.134, has made her name as one to watch over the last few weeks, reaching the last eight in Istanbul before qualifying for her first-ever Grand Slam main draw at the French Open. The Kazakh, who also qualified for the main draw this week, picked up her upset win over World No.55 van Uytvanck after one hour and 36 minutes of play.
The match was suspended on Wednesday after just three games, but Rybakina eased to victory once play was resumed on Thursday, despite a seven-minute break caused by drizzle midway through the second set. The Kazakh claimed a whopping 73 percent of van Uytvanck's second-service points, and she held 13 break points overall in the match, breaking the Belgian four times.
"It was a difficult match," Rybakina said, following her victory. "Every match is difficult because now I play against the top players. It was raining so we stopped two times, but I was talking with my coach about tactics, so I just tried to do it, and I did it, and I’m happy with my win."
Rybakina will have to defeat another Belgian to reach her first-ever WTA semifinal. The teenager will play 2018 Libéma Open runner-up Kirsten Flipkens in the elite eight, after Flipkens’s second-round upset of No.4 seed Lesia Tsurenko on Wednesday. This will be their first meeting.
"I will talk with my coach and we will watch some matches," said Rybakina. "I think I’m going to play tomorrow, so [I will] just rest and practice."
Upon resumption of play on Thursday, van Uytvanck found herself in immediate danger, having to save three break points before holding for 2-2. Rybakina had to dig herself out of a challenging game early as well, opening the 3-3 game with two consecutive double faults before eking out a hold at 4-3.
But it was in the following game where Rybakina attained a crucial advantage, after van Uytvanck squandered four game points and handed Rybakina a break point with a double fault. The Kazakh converted that chance with a wondrous forehand passing winner to find herself up a break at 5-3, and coolly served out the set in the next game, ending the opener with an ace.
Van Uytvanck evaded going into an immediate hole in the opening game of the second set, staving off five break points before holding for 1-0 after a protracted tussle. But the Belgian was unable to contain her errors in her next service game, and Rybakina attained an early break to lead 2-1.
A seven-minute rain break occurred after the 3-1 game, and once play resumed again, van Uytvanck was energized, holding serve at love and breaking back for 3-3. But Rybakina was not to be denied, as she quickly regained her break lead in the subsequent game, converting for the 4-3 lead with a beautiful backhand passing winner.
Serving for the match at 5-4, Rybakina fired a ferocious forehand to set up her first match point. The Kazakh needed only one chance, as van Uytvanck shot a forehand return into the net to end the encounter.