On a day when three seeds bowed out at the AEGON GB Pro-Series Barnstaple tennis, Alison Riske overcame her own blip to reach the quarter-finals at the Tarka Tennis Centre.
The 2010 champion from the United States found herself 4-0 down at the start of her second-round match against Timea Bacsinszky, of Switzerland.
But Riske got her act together to complete a 6-4, 7-6(6) win and avoid the fate of Vesna Dolonc, Tadeja Majeric and Stephanie Vogt – all seeds who were knocked out today.
Riske is enjoying an outstanding year, which included a run to the last 16 at the US Open. It recalls her hot streak of three years ago when her Tarka triumph sparked a run of three successive tournament wins.
Things may not have gone to plan in the meantime but the 23-year-old, seeded No 2 this week, is back where she belongs in the world’s top 60 – and enjoying being in Barnstaple again.
“I absolutely love it here,” said Riske. “It’s a bit of a challenge to actually get here but once you are here it’s wonderful.
“Any tournament you win has a special place in your memory but I love the people here, they’re all so kind and helpful. So it’s always a great week.”
Having lost those first four games and trailing 30-0 in the fifth, Riske may not have been feeling quite so fond of Barnstaple. But she produced a superb serve that kicked up to confound Bacsinszky and from then on seemed to raise her game.
“I knew it wasn’t going to get any worse so I just tried to fight and that was really all I could do,” said Riske.
There was still a bit of racket-throwing from the American as she dropped two of her three break points in the sixth game, but she got there in the end and reeled off the next four games to take the set.
Bacsinszky, who reached 37 in the world rankings in 2010, refused to buckle and played her part in an even second set. Saving a match point at 6-5 down, she forced the tie-break.
There was not much between the players in that, either, until Riske forced her opponent wide with a backhand across court and dispatched the forehand winner.
“She used to be top-50 so she has a good history and it was a tough game,” said Riske. “It took a lot to get myself going so to pull it out was satisfying.”
Riske will play Marta Sirotkina tomorrow after the Russian knocked out fifth seed Majeric, from Slovenia, with a 6-3, 7-6(1) win.
Vogt, the No 8 seed from Liechtenstein, lost 6-3, 6-2 to Naomi Broady. It is the second year running Broady, the British No 7, has knocked out a seed on her way to the quarter-finals after defeating second seed Nina Bratchikova in 2012. And, for the second year running, Broady will meet Annika Beck in the last eight. The reigning champion, from Germany, completed a 6-2, 6-3 win over Eva Wacanno, of the Netherlands, this evening.
The other seed to fall today was Vesna Dolonc, last year’s semi-finalist from Serbia, who lost 7-6(4), 6-4 to Katerina Siniakova.
She will play seventh seed and fellow Czech Kristyna Pliskova tomorrow.