Czech spoils Bencic's upward rise in Tokyo
Seventh-seeded Lucie Safarova battled back to beat wild card Belinda Bencic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 Wednesday and reach the Pan Pacific tennis tournament quarterfinals, spoiling the Swiss teenager's upward momentum this year.
The 27-year-old Czech lost three straight games after 3-3 in the first set but in the second she broke Bencic's serve in the third game and sprinkled five aces.
In the decisive set, the left-hander broke the 17-year-old Swiss in the first and fifth games before conceding no point in the eighth game, finishing her off with two straight aces, her ninth and tenth of the match.
"It was a very tough match. I'm really happy I could win," said Safarova, ranked 15th in the world, after beating Bencic in their first ever encounter in two hours and three minutes.
"It is very nice to face new young players and play very well."
Bencic, fresh from her run to the quarter-finals at the US Open two weeks ago which boosted her world ranking, said: "I can just take the positive out of this match and I didn't think it was too bad."
Ranked 34th this week, she said her Czech opponent started "serving better and returning better" after the first set. "So she made it more tough for me."
"I was playing great in the first set but to be in the top 15, you have to hold that level over three sets," said Bencic, who has been trained by her father Ivan and occasionally by Melanie Molitor, the mother of Switzerland's former world number one Martina Hingis.
Bencic upset Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open champion, 6-3, 6-0 in the first round.
Safarova, who reached the semi-finals at this year's Wimbledon, faces third-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the round of eight.