Ninth seed Mona Barthel survived an injury scare to advance to the Hobart International quarterfinals today.
The world No.45 ended Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka’s run with a 7-6(2) 6-2 victory in the second round match on centre court.
Signs were looking promising for Barthel when she secured the first break of the match in the sixth game. But a backhand in the game caused concern, with Barthel feeling a sharp pain in her lower back. She immediately requested to see the trainer.
“I had this one shot where I felt it in the back,” she explained.
When the ninth seed returned to the court, she was moving gingerly and spraying unforced errors in a bid to keep points short. Osaka capitalised by winning the next two games, but the Japanese qualifier could not maintain the ascendancy. Barthel kept fighting, with her serve hitting its target and using her potent forehand to her advantage, she took the set into a tiebreak.
“At the beginning I was like wow, this is a lot of pain. So I was just trying to play and take it one point at a time,” Barthel said.
A subdued Osaka looked lost on court, with the powerful shot-making that had been her biggest weapon in four wins so far this week not having the same impact. The momentum was with Barthel, winning the tiebreak and securing a break at the start of the second set.
Barthel continued to get treatment on her injury, but was never tested in the second set as she closed the match out in 80 minutes.
“It was a tough match for me. I had never played her before, so it’s always difficult,” Barthel said.
The 2012 Hobart International champion took positives from her ability to finish the match in trying conditions.
“I feel like really stretching to a ball was really tough for me,” she said. “I was just trying to make the best and keep the rallies short.”
“It (the injury) was getting a little bit better, so that was a good sign.”
Barthel, who is now into her third Hobart International quarterfinal in five years, next meets seventh seed Alize Cornet of France.
Dutch qualifer Kiki Bertens is also into the quarterfinals, thrashing German Annika Beck 6-3 6-1.
The world No.103 was impressive, outclassing her higher-ranked opponent. After falling behind an early break in the first set, Bertens won 10 of the final 11 games to storm to a comprehensive win.
“I felt really good today,” Bertens said. “My opponent didn’t play good, she made a lot of mistakes, so I was trying to speed it up and not let her get any rhythm.”