1 seed Ons Jabeur passed a tough test in the second round of the bett1open, saving a set point before suppressing big serve qualifier Alycia Parks 6-2, 7-6(8) in 1 hour 31 minutes.
Jabeur had beaten Parks 6-4, 6-0 in their only previous encounter, on green clay at the 2021 Charleston WTA 250 event. However, the American’s terrific serve brought his rematch on grass considerably closer, and Jabeur barely escaped being forced into a third set.
The result puts Jabeur in his eighth quarter-final of 2022, all at the WTA 500 level or higher. She will next face Aliaksandra Sasnovich as she tries to reach a fourth semi-final of the season.
Parks, 21, finally acquitted herself well in her first career encounter with a Top 20-ranked player. against Zheng Qinwen in the first round.
Match management: With Parks fully committed to first-strike tennis, it was the world No. 169 who dictated much of the match’s tempo. She hit more winners than Jabeur, 18-13, but also far more unforced errors, 31-17.
Many of the latter came during the first set and a half. Jabeur took a 6-2, 3-1 lead with solid serve and a strategy to scare Parks away, invariably drawing errors from the lower-ranked player.
But Jabeur was nearly caught off guard when Parks raised her game – then received a lucky break in the form of a dead net cord that saw her come back for 3-3. The Tunisian found herself struggling with her own inconsistency as she sought to escape a competition that had suddenly become much tighter.
Jabeur managed to find some trademark magic at key moments: a backhand slice pass to save the serving break point at 3-4, and a formidable defensive point to come up 5-3 in the tie-break.
Closing the match was another struggle, however. Jabeur squandered the match triple point at 6-3, then had to find some of his best forehands of the day to salvage a set point at 6-7. But on her fifth match point, the world No. 4 was finally able to advance thanks to an unreturned serve.
In the words of Jabeur: “[It was] hard to play with [low] number of gatherings. Especially since his service is very fast, so I had to adapt my return. In the second set she started to play a lot better, and I had to take a chance when I got the break.
“It’s hard, I should have tried my luck when I was serving [in the tiebreak]. I knew if it was going to be 6-5 it would be really tough for me. But I’m glad I stayed calm afterwards.”
Bencic repeats Kalinskaya defeat
Seven days ago, Belinda Bencic won in a first meeting with Anna Kalinskaya 7-6(2), 6-4 in the second round of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Exactly one week later, the No. 8 seed took over that 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 result at the same Berlin stadium to reach their sixth quarter-final of 2022.
A high-quality and hard-fought first set was finally decided by a break of serve. At 4-4, a pair of double faults from Kalinskaya opened the door for Bencic, and the Swiss player seized her opportunity with an aggressive return before effectively serving the set.
Bencic continued to play brilliantly to immediately bring a triple break point in the first game of the second set – but after squandering all three chances the match suffered a sudden change in momentum. The clarity in Bencic’s shot selection wore off and was replaced by wild strikes. On the other hand, Kalinskaya raised her level, especially on serve, and accelerated six out of seven games.
Bencic, a runner-up here last year, reversed that swing with more dynamic play at the start of the decider. The 25-year-old fended off a drive-in volley to break the 2-0 scoreline, and then dominated the set with a return to her form from the opening set. A superb angled forehand sealed a second break for 5-1, and a game later Bencic converted his first match point with a forehand down the line, his 35th winner of the day.