NEW YORK—It was only several weeks ago that young American Bernarda Pera fell in the first round in singles and doubles at the year’s third major, Wimbledon.
Going many steps further than that was Czech veteran Barbora Strycova, who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal in singles and captured the doubles title for the best two-week stretch of her career.
The two met in the second round Tuesday at the Bronx Open, and it was Pera who came away with the win. Having lost their only encounter last year at the Australian Open, Pera—who received a wild card for the tournament—rallied to beat the third-seeded Strycova, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Early in the first set, Strycova put the pressure on Pera by getting to break point three times in the third game. Pera fended those off, but in the seventh game, Strycova was able to break through behind some massive returns and deft volley winners. She would go on to wrap up the opener 6-3.
In the second set, though, Pera dialed up the intensity on her groundstrokes and was able to overpower the Czech, cracking winners while adjusting to Strycova’s all-court game. After a 10-minute break due to the heat rule, Pera appeared to be the fresher player and stormed to a 3-0 lead behind two quick breaks. Strycova managed to get one of them back, but that was it as the Croatian-born American closed out the decider 6-1 to reach her first hard-court quarterfinal of the year.
After the match, Pera said focusing on her own capabilities helped her right the ship after dropping the opening set.
“I wasn’t thinking about her game,” she said. “I was more focused on my game and finding that balance that I think is so important for me to play well. It’s finding that balance between being too passive and too aggressive, and I think I was just able to find my balance and the rhythm with my feet in the second set and keep going in the third.”
With an aggressive baseline game, much of Pera’s success this year has come on clay courts. After Wimbledon, she reached consecutive semifinals in Lausanne, Switzerland and Jurmala, Latvia. Despite a late start on hard courts in preparation for the US Open, Pera says she’s pleased with the state of her game on the surface. She lost in the first round of qualifying in Cincinnati but has rebounded nicely in the Bronx.
“I think it’s going pretty well. I’m happy with the way I’m playing on hard right now.”
Styrcova also got a late start on hard courts as the Bronx Open was only her second tournament after Wimbledon. Last week in Cincinnati, due to the cutoff coming before her London run, she was forced to play qualifying. Strycova entered into the main draw as a lucky loser after losing in the final qualifying round, but was unable to capitalize, losing her opener to Daria Kasatkina.
For Pera, the disappointment of Wimbledon is getting left further behind in the rearview mirror, while Strycova will be trying to recapture that winning feeling she enjoyed at the All England Club as both players prepare for the year’s last major.