American wildcard Bernarda Pera pulled off a three-set upset to reach the NYJTL Bronx Open quarterfinals, posting a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory over No.3 seed and Wimbledon semifinalist Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
“I was more focused on my game and finding that balance that is so important for me to play well,” World No.69 Pera said, after the match. “It’s finding the balance between being too aggressive and being too passive.
“I think I was just able to find my balance and find the rhythm with my feet in the second set, and keep going in the same way in the third.”
World No.32 Strycova had won their only prior meeting quite easily, with a 6-2, 6-2 victory in the third round of the 2018 Australian Open, but on a toasty day in the Bronx, Pera leveled their rivalry with straightforward scorelines in the final two sets to attain a one-hour and 57-minute win.
Pera finished the match by winning two-thirds of points on her first service; Strycova, despite not facing any break points in the opening set, could only muster up slightly under half of her points when she got her first serve into play. Pera saved nine of 12 break points she faced during the encounter while converting six of the seven chances she had to break Strycova.
Pera staved off four break points in her first two service games, and maintained parity with her opponent through 3-3. Strycova, however, had held serve with minimal difficulty, and garnered two more chances on the American’s serve after a superb defensive lob forced an error from Pera. A forehand error finally gave Strycova a break at 4-3, on her sixth break point of the set.
Strycova eased through the remainder of the set from there, firing two aces en route to a hold for 5-3, then reaching triple set point in the next game, after Pera misfired on a forehand down the line. Pera saved two set points with aggressive play, but a deep service return by Strycova on the third forced a netted error from the American, giving the Czech the one-set advantage.
In the second set, though, the tables turned. Pera earned her first service break of the match, polishing a point off at net for a 2-1 lead, and used strong serving to consolidate for 3-1. The American fended off a break point before volleying her way to a hold for 4-2, and then earned a second break after back-to-back double faults to lead 5-2. Pera took the set in the next game.
Pera kept on rolling in the final set, using big returns to reach double break point in the opening game, at which point Strycova double faulted. Pera blasted an overhead to claim a second break and a 3-0 lead, and though the Czech got one break back for 3-1, Pera reeled off the final three games of the match to move into her fourth WTA quarterfinal of the season.
Pera will now face either Russian qualifier Anastasia Potapova or No.5 seed Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic in the elite eight.