HIROSHIMA, Japan -- No.5 seed Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia moved into the quarterfinals of the Hana-cupid Japan Women's Open on Wednesday, defeating Zhu Lin of China, 7-5, 6-4.
The first meeting between the two players featured a rain delay of over two hours during the first set, and a brief re-appearance of showers in the second set, but World No.60 Tomljanovic weathered the storms to claim her win over Zhu after 99 minutes of play.
"[Zhu] played well from start to finish after that rain delay, so I’m pretty happy that I managed to get through, though I didn’t feel my best out there, with the rain and everything," Tomljanovic told the media, after her win.
The 25-year-old Australian hit 23 winners, including six aces, to Zhu's 16. World No.112 Zhu was broken six times and lost slightly more than half the points when she stepped to the service line.
In the quarterfinals, Tomljanovic will face either No.2 seed Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei or Mandy Minella of Luxembourg, who will face off in a second-round encounter on Thursday.
"I think they’re both playing really good tennis this year, and whoever wins that match is going to be really tough," Tomljanovic stated.
Tomljanovic got off to a hot start, breaking Zhu twice en route to a 3-0 lead. The Australian moved to double game point on her serve, putting her just a point away from 4-0, but at that juncture, rain began to fall and play was postponed for two hours and ten minutes.
Upon resumption of play, Zhu came back a different competitor, with aggressive forehands from the Chinese player frustrating Tomljanovic. Zhu ran off four straight points to steal that interrupted game from Tomljanovic, and eventually claimed five of seven games to reach 5-5, completely erasing the double-break deficit she was facing when precipitation started.
"I thought she came out maybe stronger than me after that rain," said Tomljanovic. "I felt like I was a little too relaxed. I’m thinking ‘I’m 3-0 up, it’s a big lead,’ when it’s really not. I had to fight through some kind of bad games that I played."
But Tomljanovic would then break Zhu for a fourth time in the set, using brutal service returns and delicate drop shot winners to get to 6-5. The Australian used a combination of a big serve and powerful forehand to reach set point in the next game, and converted it after another strong forehand forced an error from Zhu.
A roughly five-minute rain delay during the first game of the second set could not deter Tomljanovic from breaking Zhu via another flurry of stunning forehands. But Zhu eventually clawed back to level pegging, breaking the fifth seed for 3-3. However, Tomljanovic quickly reclaimed her break advantage, taking the next game at love to lead 4-3.
After Zhu saved one match point on her serve at 5-3, Tomljanovic served for the match at 5-4. The Australian claimed three more match points, but all went begging, before a service winner set up a fourth match point of the game, and fifth overall. Finally, Tomljanovic closed out the win by forcing a long error from Zhu with one last thunderous forehand.