LINZ, Austria – No.5 seed Sorana Cirstea returned to the quarterfinals at the Upper Austria Ladies’ Linz for the first time in six years on Thursday, edging Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva, 7-6(14), 6-4 in Thursday’s final match.
In a mammoth opening set that lasted 80 minutes, and a tiebreak which took 20 on its own, Cirstea saved five set points overall and took a one-set lead on her sixth chance.
After seeing seven break points go by in Vikhlyantseva’s first two service games, Cirstea found herself behind as she became the first player to surrender her serve in the seventh game.
The No.5 seed hit back immediately, winning four straight points from 30-0 down to finally break through on the Russian’s delivery before the set wound through to its dramatic conclusion.
Neither player could build a lead of more than a point until Vikhlyantseva secured a 6-4 lead, but saw herself both unable to convert on five set points, and save five of Cirstea’s chances, before evenutally succumbing in the set.
With momentum on her side, the Romanian built a double break advantage in the second set by winning four of the first five games. Though Vikhlyantseva hit back to pull closer, she was unable to level the set as Cirstea moved on in two hours, 11 minutes.
After No.7 seed Tatjana Maria won her second round yesterday, Cirstea made sure that four seeds would feature in Friday’s quarterfinal matches.