By Jake Davies
- Mihaela Buzarnescu [Q] defeats Belinda Bencic [WC] 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (4)
- Barbora Strycova  defeats Tatjana Maria  6-1, 6-3.
LINZ, AUSTRALIA – Belinda Bencic‘s run came to an end, and Barbora Strycova strides on
Mihaela Buzarnescu [Q] defeats Belinda Bencic [WC] 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (4)
The Romanian qualifier, who was playing her first ever WTA main draw, demonstrated why she was one of the most in-form players on the tour as she fought off nerves and some quality play from her opponent to progress to a first ever WTA semi-final.
Buzarnescu served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, held three match points at 5-4 too, and the realisation of what she was playing for affected her quality of play. Luckily for her, she had a second bite of the cherry and stood tall to win in the deciding set tiebreak.
Barbora Strycova  defeats Tatjana Maria  6-1, 6-3
The second-seeded Barbora Strycova had a much simpler time on court in comparison to her last match against Jana Fett. She lost just the four games and spent very little time on court in her match with the No.7 seed Tatjana Maria. At this level every single second spent on the court is vital, especially when it comes to the business-end of many of these WTA events. Less time on court in the quarter-final will now allow Strycova to give all her efforts in the upcoming semi-final against Buzarnescu.
Strycova talked openly about where her game is placed at this time of the season and how satisfied she was with against a player that can be problematic to overcome on her day:
“Yes, I felt solid. It was not an easy match for me as Tatjana is a very tricky player. She is mixing the game a lot, so you have to be ready for many different balls and you have to move well and I did just that. I was serving really good as the percentages of my serve was very high, which is very important to play on this surface. Overall it was a good performance today.”
The matchup between Strycova and Buzarnescu offers a lot. Strycova is vastly experienced and has been on the WTA tour for a total of 13 years, whereas Buzarnescu will feel that this her time to shine. She has spent year upon year recovering from different ailments and has finally profited from a first proper season where she can catch a break and the results are following that progression.
Strycova admitted that she had not seen much of her next opponent. She actually had only witnessed a handful of points, but she was aware of the heavy strides that Buzarnescu has made this week and what that determines coming into this match:
“To be honest, I saw her for the first time today (against Bencic). She might be very tired because she played so many matches, but also when you have a lot of matches under your belt you build up that confidence. I have to be ready and she plays a very tricky game. It is going to be a tough match.”
It’s a huge moment for both. Strycova has not won a WTA title since Quebec in 2011, which was her maiden title, so she will feel this is a tremendous opportunity. Buzarnescu is completely new to this level in this sport, but will argue that she wants to make up for lost time and play her best tennis in the latter stages of her career.
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