By Jake Davies

  • Barbora Strycova [2] defeats Mihaela Buzarnescu [Q] 6-3, 7-6 (3)
  • Magdalena Rybarikova [1] defeats Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 6-4
LINZ, AUSTRIA – Magdalena Rybarikova will look to level the head-to-head when she meets Barbora Strycova in the Upper Austria Ladies Linz final on Sunday.

Barbora Strycova [2] defeats Mihaela Buzarnescu [Q] 6-3, 7-6 (3)

Romanian qualifier Mihaela Buzarnescu spoke earlier on in the week about how she is relishing the chance to play regularly against Top 100 players, and how she wants to get more and more experience at a level she is not familiar. The challenge facing her in the semi-final of Linz was a former Top 20 player in Barbora Strycova.

The first set really was about the missed chances for the qualifier. She obtained a break point in the first and fifth game, but Strycova was the better of the two on the big points as she took the first set 6-3.

There was not much separating Strycova and Buzarnescu. The Czech No.3 and World No.26 looked to have the measure of her inexperienced opponent, breaking in the fifth game for a 6-3, *3-2 lead, but Buzarnescu would not go away as she broke back immediately for 3-3.

The Romanian was not overawed by the occasion at all. With a combination of aggressive play from the forehand side, Buzarnescu created a set point on Strycova’s serve, but the Czech stepped up her game to win the match in a 2nd set tiebreak, where she gave nothing away.

“I’m very happy to finish this way near the end of the season. I still have one more match to come and it is a very important one. I will give everything tomorrow and see how it goes, but I will fight.”

Strycova had nothing but nice words to say about Buzarnescu after their first battle against each other:

“I have to say she is a very talented player. She has such great strokes. She is playing with not a lot of power, but she reads the game very well. I was in trouble in the second set at 3-3 and she also held a set point and I was feeling like I could not win a point from the baseline, because she was playing well. If she continues playing like this she will be Top 50 very soon.

Getting the match finished in just two-sets was of the utmost importance for the Czech. A bigger challenge will await in the Upper Austria Ladies Linz final and in the back of her mind she was aware of that:

“It was very important because we had long rallies and in the second set I felt more and more tired. I guess she was as well, because she has had so many matches under her belt.”

Many are sceptical of the relevance and importance of the European indoor events on both tours. On the WTA, there are only a handful of tournaments as the presence of indoor tournaments have fizzled out significantly. Strycova expressed how she loves the remaining indoor tournaments:

“It is good. It is in Europe, but it is very tough, because we have a long season including the US Open series and then we have one week before we travel to Asia. Travelling back to play the indoor tournaments is very difficult both physically and mentally. It is great because it is close to home and they are very well-organised events. Personally, I like it.”

 

Magdalena Rybarikova [1] defeats Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 6-4

We could be in for a classic in Sunday’s final as the No.1 seed Magdalena Rybarikova also came out on top in her semi-final against Viktorija Golubic.

The Slovakian No.2 rallied back from a 1-4 deficit in the first set and reeled off five games on the trot to steal the set, but the most worrying phase of the match arrived at the start of the second set, where the first seed needed treatment off court. Her movement seemed slow and sluggish on her return to the court, but the longer she spent on the court, the better the footwork became, as she fought through the pain barrier to win the match 6-4, 6-4.

Following her semi-final victory, Rybarikova gave small details about her physical condition going into Sunday’s final:

“The injury could feel different in the morning, but I felt a little bit of a sharp pain. I decided I wanted to tape it just in case it got worse. It was very very strong. I was even having problems to walk at the beginning because it was that strong. I’m hopeful it is going to be fine tomorrow.”

The final will feature two players that like to mix up the pace, enjoy throwing in the slice and cutting their way through opponents. The Slovakian talked us through what she will expect from her opponent Strycova:

“It is actually going to be very difficult. I lost to her a few weeks ago in Tokyo. It was very close match and I think it was a good match. I think this surface suits her better than me, but I hope it is going to be a good match and I hope we are not going to be injured and we will both survive it!”

Both players have done well to find a way to get the win in difficult situations all week, but I think that Strycova has the slight edge and should pick up her 2nd ever WTA title on Sunday.

Main Image: Photo by Rob Prange/REX/Shutterstock

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