Adelaide | Rybakina and Pegula survive stern tests

Top seed Elena Rybakina was pushed hard by lucky loser Cristina Bucsa but prevailed in 2 sets, while 2nd-seeded Jessica Pegula survived an all-American clash on Wednesday, but fended off another lucky loser, Bernarda Pera, in 3 sets to also reach the quarter-finals at the Adelaide International WTA 500 tournament. 

[Pera] was hitting unbelievable shots in the first set, I didn't really think there was much more I could do. I just tried to change a couple of things, and stay relaxed, not get frustrated that she was playing some great tennis. She's always very tough. Jessica Pegula

Fresh off her 6th career title in Brisbane last week, Rybakina extended her winning run to 6 matches in the 2nd-round with a 6-3 7-5 win over the Spaniard.

The World No 3 had to pass her toughest test of the season so far, though, having dropped only 15 games across her 5 Brisbane matches combined, while none of her opponents had detained her for longer than 73 minutes.

Bucsa went toe-to-toe with Rybakina and kept her on court for an hour and 30 minutes, while only the former Wimbledon champion’s clutch play on important points enabled her to come out on top of a contest that was close to swinging away from her.

“For me it was a bit tough to get used to the conditions, and we’re playing late,” Rybakina said afterwards. “She played really well today, especially coming forward — you don’t see this much, so it was a bit surprising for me.”

Bucsa raced out of the blocks with a clear game plan, determined to impose herself on the match with quick baseline redirections, drop-shots out of nowhere and superb touch at net.

It unsettled the Kazakh, as Bucsa fired 9 winners to only 3 unforced errors, and maintained her positive ratio in the second with 11 more winners to 9 more miscues.

Rybakina saved herself with her serve, which compensated for the 18 unforced errors she produced, particularly her first delivery, which was as formidable as ever.

She saved the first 7 break points she faced, including all 4 in the opener, and converted her first two opportunities to capture the Bucsa serve at the end of the first set and to start the second.

Ranked 61, Bucsa, who won her first WTA 125 title in Limoges a month ago, kept pressing, and finally took the Rybakina serve at the 7th time of asking to level for 3-3 in the second set, when the Kazakh netted a volley.

It all hung in the balance, but Rybakina critically broke the Spaniard for 6-5, and then had to save another break point when serving for victory with a backhand winner.

On her second match point, she slammed down her 11th ace to set up a quarter-final meeting with Ekaterina Alexandrova, who upset her Russian compatriot Veronika Kudermetova, the 8th seed, 6-4 6-4, late in the day.


Daria Kasatkina needed nearly 3 hours and 3 sets to get past qualifier Anna Kalinskaya into the Last 8

© Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Meanwhile, another Russian, last year’s runner-up Daria Kasatkina, pulled off a remarkable come-back against yet another, qualifier Anna Kalinskaya, for a 5-7 6-4 7-5 win after 2 hours and 51 minutes.

Kasatkina takes on Laura Siegemund, after the German took out lucky loser Ana Bogdan, 6-4 7-5, the vanquisher of British No 1 Katie Boulter in round 1.

The World No 15 faced a point to go down a set and 5-0, but turned the match around with a run of 8 straight games to lead 2-0 in the decider.

Kalinskaya mounted one last charge from 3-5 down in the third set, saving 2 match points to level at 5-5, but Kasatkina stayed resilient, sealing her 4th win in 5 meetings with her fellow Russian after the latter double-faulted facing a 3rd.


Jessica Pegula prevailed in 3 sets over fellow American Bernarda Pera to make the quarter-finals in Adelaide

© Sarah Reed/Getty Images

Pegula needed 2 hours and 12 minutes to battle back from a set down and triumph over 69th-ranked Pera in the 2nd-round of the WTA 500 event.

The World No 5 has a 2-1 win-loss record so far this season, having led defending champions American team at last week’s United Cup, in which she beat Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic but suffered an upset loss to British No 1, Katie Boulter.

She will now face Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a former Roland Garros finalist and the winner of the all-qualifier contest with Katerina Siniakova from the Czech Republic, who defeated Pera in the final round of qualifying.

Pegula looked ill at ease against Pera’s powerful left-handed game in the opening set, and converted only 1 of her 10 break point chances, but she found her feet in the second to draw level and, after nosing ahead by a break at 4-3 in the third, she then saved 5 break points for a crucial hold before breaking again.

“[Pera] was hitting unbelievable shots in the first set, I didn’t really think there was much more I could do,” Pegula said. “I just tried to change a couple of things, and stay relaxed, not get frustrated that she was playing some great tennis. She’s always very tough.”

Pegula won her only prior meeting with Pavlyuchenkova, 1-6 6-3 6-2, in the 2nd-round of Montreal 2021.

Pavlyuchenkova, now ranked No 59, upset Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, the No 5 seed, 6-3 6-4, in the previous round of the Adelaide tournament.


Jelena Ostapenko had a battle on her hands with Caroline Garcia but advanced to the Last 8 on Day 3 of the Adelaide International at Memorial Drive

© Mark Brake/Getty Images

In other Wednesday results, 6th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia outlasted France’s Caroline Garcia, 4-6 7-5 6-4, in a 2 hour 42 minute battle, and, in the quarters, she will meet Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, who overcame lucky loser Taylor Townsend, 6-3 2-6 6-4, holding off a late charge from the American in the closing stages.



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