Tamira Paszek was not expected to be in Aegon Open Nottingham action on Tuesday after she fell in the final qualifying round on Monday. But she entered the main draw as a lucky loser before going on to edge Kurumi Nara in straight sets.
Austrian rallies back to take the first set
Paszek and Nara had met twice before, and they each held one win over each other. The match then began with an exchange of holds, but it was not long before the lucky loser broke the 24-year-old Japanese. Paszek served at 2-1 with a break advantage, but Nara convincingly stole the next three games to lead the Austrian four games to two. Nara continued her momentum until Paszek settled in and took the break right back.
A service hold from the lucky loser leveled the set at 4-4 after a streaky first eight games. The Austrian is known as a grass-court specialist considering her Wimbledon quarterfinal appearances in 2011 and 2012. Her grass-court experience shone through, and she was able to outthink the world number 96. The first set was concluded at the 44-minute mark, and it was Paszek who held the one-set lead after a brilliant comeback. The Austrian tallied four straight games to clinch the set 6-4.
Paszek wraps up first top-100 win since February
The second set started in the world number 122's favor as she broke in the opening game. A clutch hold from Paszek followed despite facing a break point. The lucky loser led Nara 6-4, 2-0, and the Japan-native lacked answers after dropping six consecutive games to the Austrian. But Nara crucially stepped up to get onto the scoreboard with a lengthy hold of serve. The pair continued to share holds through the set's sixth game. The grass-court specialist held a 6-4, 4-2 lead, and the finish line seemed in reach for Paszek.
Nara was put into a nerve-wracking position yet again as she served to stay within reach of Paszek. But Paszek relentlessly dominated Nara's final service game. With the break to love, the Austrian was forced to serve for a spot in the second round. The lucky loser arrived at a match point, and on her second time of asking she closed out an impressive win over the fourth-ranked Japanese player. Paszek displayed her fight and grass-court abilities during her hour and 24 minutes on Court 1. With the win, she picked up her first WTA main draw match win since January.
Lucky loser to play Rybarikova
Paszek will take on Magdalena Rybarikova on Thursday for a spot in the Aegon Open Nottingham quarterfinals. The pair has played once before, but their previous encounter dates back to 2008. Thursday's matchup will be a true test of who can execute their shots better as they are both effective on the grass courts.