Magdalena Rybarikova came through a tough three set contest to see off fourth seed Alison Riske 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 at the Aegon Open in Nottingham to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Slovakian was in full control leading by a set and 5-3 and even had a match point, but a spirited comeback from last year’s runner-up saw the American force a decider. It was Riske who went up a break of serve first in the final set but the recent champion in Surbiton recovered to keep her fine grass court form going.
* Article originally published by me for UBITennis.net *
Prior to this match Rybarikova led their head to head 2-0, but the two had not met since 2014, with the Slovakian picking up wins on the hard courts at New Haven and the Canadian Masters and she kept that form going against her at the Nottingham Tennis Centre in tough conditions.
Both players started out with routine service holds, but it was the fourth seed who suffered the first blip in the sixth game when she fell 0-40 down. The American saved the first two break points but could not prevent Rybarikova from taking the third and soon establishing a 5-2 lead.
Riske was up in her next service game but her opponent was very much in control, dictating play and was able to respond and secure a second break to take the opening set 6-2 after half an hour of play on Centre Court.
The fourth seed reached the final here at the Aegon Open last year but was failing to get into the match after she squandered a break point chance in both of the Slovakian’s opening two service games in the second set.
Those missed chances came back to bite the world number 41 as she was broken in the next game but fortunately was able to break back immediately to keep her hopes alive. It looked to be all over once Rybarikova sealed another break to take a 5-3 lead but the Slovakian was unable to serve out the match as Riske broke back once again.
The fourth seed diced with danger once more down 6-5, 0-30 on her serve but clung on to hold. In the tiebreak she got her reward as she moved into a 6-3 lead. Riske failed to take the first two opportunities but claimed the third after Rybarikova’s backhand went narrowly wide to level the score at one set all.
With the momentum now with the American, Riske had the chance to earn an early break of the world number 117’s serve. Rybarikova responded well and reeled off four points in a row to stave off the threat and level at one game all.
Riske was able to get the break she had been searching for in the fourth game but immediately relinquished her lead after the American put her volley long to gift the break back to the Slovakian. The seventh game looked as though it was going to be routine for the American but she watched her 40-0 lead on serve evaporate and a double fault left her break point down. The fourth seed was able to win that point and save a second break point on her way to securing a pivotal hold in the latter stages of the match.
Rybarikova had suffered the disappointment of watching her lead slip away in the second set and had done well to hang in there in the final set and earned her reward in the eleventh game as she broke Riske’s serve to have the chance to serve for the match once again. On this occasion she was able to get over the line to complete the two and a half hour battle 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5.
Next up for the world number 117 is American Kristie Ahn in the quarterfinals on Friday in what promises to be another very exciting contest.