Local Bai ousts top seed in Canberra
Alison Bai has upset top seed Arina Rodionova to reach the quarterfinals of the ITF $60,000 event in Canberra.
Top seed Arina Rodionova – currently ranked a career-high world No.116 – has been knocked out in the second round of the Apis Canberra International on Thursday by local favourite Alison Bai.
The unseeded Canbrerran said the win – in front of family and friends – was still sinking in. “It’s all still a bit of a blur to be honest,” she said. “It’s probably one of the biggest wins of my career and to do it my hometown where I train and grew up is definitely a bonus, it makes it even sweeter.
“But it’s always good to get a win over a top player whose had an amazing season so I’m definitely very happy.”
Both players exchanged multiple service breaks early in the match, but Bai eventually took the set in a tiebreaker before Rodionova quickly regrouped, taking the second set with relative ease. The Cabrerran was unfazed though, and raced to a 5-0 lead in the decider, before the top seed lifted her rate and capitalised on some nerves from her opponent, putting the set back on serve with four consecutive games. However, Bai lifted to win the match 7-6(5) 3-6 6-4 and seal a place in the quarterfinals.
“I felt she really took it to the next level and stepped it up a gear,” Bai, 27, said of Rodionova’s comeback in the third set. “I had to create everything which definitely put a lot of pressure back on me.
“Luckily, I didn’t panic and just tried to keep doing what I had been doing all match and it got me there in the end.”
Rodionova has been Bai’s Canberra nemesis in recent times, ousting her from this tournament last year in the first round and also getting the better of her in the opening round of Canberra’s first 2016 ITF event, which is played on clay.
“Third time lucky,” Bai, the world No.601, beamed. “Today I took it one point at a time, I just focused on myself and my game and what I needed to do well.”
She now faces qualifier Kaylah McPhee, who continued her impressive run from the qualifying draw to reach the quarterfinals, defeating American Jennifer Elie 1-6 6-4 6-4 on Thursday.
“She’s a really good competitor, she gets a lot of balls back,” Bai said of the 19-year-old Queenslander. “If I can get out there tomorrow and play my usual game then hopefully I should be OK, but I won’t be taking it lightly, it will be a battle.”
Second-seeded Queenslander Lizette Cabrera had a tough encounter, coming back from a one-set deficit to eventually overcome Alexandra Bozovic 6-7(3) 6-4 6-3.
Other Australians through to the quarterfinal stage include Destanee Aiava (No.4) and Olivia Rogowska (No.6), while Ellen Perez, who conquered American third seed Asia Muhammad on Wednesday, fell to Abigail Tere-Apisah of Papua New Guinea.