Sania Mirza continued to live on the edge, as she battled her way into the last eight of the WTA Bangalore Open on Thursday night.
The Indian ace worked her way up after an awful start to beat Belarussian veteran Tatiana Poutchek 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the second round. She will face Russia's Yaraslova Shvedova next, on Friday.
Poutchek, who had nothing more than a cross-court backhand to trouble Sania, relied too much on the Indian's errors to bail her out. The 28-year-old kept playing at Sania's backhand and hit high balls to trouble the Indian, who came out misfiring on all cylinders; the serve got nowhere and the ground strokes were sprayed all over the court as the crowd favourite found herself 0-5 down.
Though the mistakes were coming in a torrent from the Hyderabadi's racquet, it looked only a matter of time before she would pull things together and start dictating the points.
Poutchek's shots did not have the power to outrun the Indian, and once Sania was on board in the sixth game, she started dictating the points. She broke Poutchek in the seventh game and held on to 5-3, but the Belarussian served out the set at 6-3.
Sania stepped up the pace in the second set; serving an ace to close the fifth game. Sshe went onto break Poutchek and surged into a 5-2 lead.
As on Wednesday, when she had been hit by a bout of nerves while serving for the set twice against Slovakia's Martina Sucha, Sania failed to close out the set and let Poutchek level at 5-5. But she continued her dare-devilry, pulled off some sensational flat, hard ground strokes and pocketed the set 7-5 when Poutchek hit a forehand long.
Going into the third set, Sania had the momentum. Being a confidence player, she rolled through the decider after getting an early break in the second game. Poutchek was clearing tiring out, and Sania's superior fitness and aggressive game saw her close out the match without another hurdle.
Ukraine girl Olga Savchuk surprised the most successful player of this lot, Australian Alicia Molik with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory earlier in the evening.
At 153, Savchuk is 54 rungs below Molik in the current WTA Tour ladder; seeded 22nd here she is eight places behind and, aged 19, eight years younger than the experienced Aussie.
Last year during the same week Savchuk had stunned world No 14 Hantuchova as qualifier en route to a career-first Top-20 win at Tier-II event in Antwerp.
Perhaps luck again played its part for here as Molik summed up the match later when she said, "I lost the match rather than she winning it."
At 4-all 0-40 Olga was down three break points and that she managed to hold on to her serve and went on to break Molik's serve proved crucial.
Savchuk, who has not gone beyond round 32 this year in four Tour outings, will look forward to continuing her dream run when she meets last year's runner-up and fourth seed Jelena Kostanic Tosic in Friday's last quarter-final.
Reigning champion and top seed Mara Santangelo of Italy survived a scare before getting the better of Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 to enter the quarter-finals.
It was not a good start for Santangelo as she faced the threat of elimination from her tall and well-built rival Amanmuradova, who broke the Italian twice in the first set, in the third and ninth games. The lone player from Uzbekistan in this field turned the heat on, slamming 14 aces.
The 38th-ranked Italian now faces qualifier Japanese Yurika Sema, who will be playing in her first quarter-final this year following her Round 16 and Round 32 exits at Tokyo and Pattaya in the last two weeks.
Melinda Czink, the lone Hungarian playing in Bangalore, made her second quarter-final of the year, overcoming stiff resistance from Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei 4-6, 7-6, 7-5.
Czink, who had lost in semis here last year to Croat lass Jelena Kostanic Tosic, will next take on the oldest player in this field, 33-year-old Tzipora Obziler of Israel on Friday.
Results: Singles second round: Olga Savchuk bt Alicia Molik 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; Melinda Czink (Hun) bt Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe) 4-6, 7-6, 7-5; Mara Santangelo (Ita) bt Akgul Amanmuradova (Uzb) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Doubles Q/F: Yung-Jan Chan (Tpe) / Chia-Jung Chuang (Tpe) bt Alberta Brianti (Ita) / Mariya Koryttseva (Ukr) 6-2, 4-6, (10-8); Jarmila Gajdosova (Svk)/ Christina Horiatopoulos (Aus) bt Yulia Beygelzimer (Ukr) /Yuliana Fedak (Ukr) 6-3, 6-3; Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe) / Alla Kudryavtseva (Rus) bt Chunmei Ji (Chn) / Sheng nan Sun (Chn) 7-6, 6-4.
Doubles first round: N.Uberoi/S.Uberoi (USA/IND) d. (WC) Lakhani/Nagaraj (IND/IND) 6-4, 6-0.