ATHENS, Ga. — With a comeback in the second set and a dominating effort in the third set, Kansas State’s Petra Niedermayerova defeated No. 16-ranked Diana Nakic of Baylor on Thursday afternoon in a little over three hours of action, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Division I Women’s Singles Championships at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
Niedermayerova, ranked No. 29 in the Campbell/ITA National singles rankings, became the second player in school history and the first since Yana Dorodnova in 1998 to the reach the Round of 16 in the NCAA Singles Championships.
When asked about her place in K-State history at this point in the tournament, Niedermayerova put her accomplishments to the side and wanted to live in the moment.
“Right now, I am not thinking about it,” she said. “Maybe when I come back to Manhattan I will think about it. Right now, I just know that I won another round and I get to play again (Friday). (Today) is another day and another match and another opportunity.”
With temperatures approaching 90 degrees, the on court conditions on Thursday for both players were very similar to the conditions from their earlier match with one another on March 25. On that day, the Manhattan/Wamego area was in the upper 80s with high humidity levels as well. Both players played a three-set match that lasted for nearly four hours, as Nakic outdueled Niedermayerova.
In that March 25 match, Niedermayerova took a rare medical timeout to deal with the heat and was seen several times stretching out cramps and trying to avoid vomiting on the court from the heat. She admitted that Thursday was going to be a different story for her.
“The weather conditions were very similar,” she said. “This time I wasn’t going to be the first one to be tired. Yesterday, I had the confidence to stay on the court as long as needed and today I felt the same way.
“I felt Diana was a little more tired this time. I noticed a difference in the third set. Obviously, I played much better through the conditions this time.”
Down a set and trailing Nakic in the second set at 2-0 and 3-2, Niedermayerova was able to reverse her fortune in the sixth game. She broke the lefthanded Nakic’s serve for the first time on the afternoon and tied the match at three apiece.
Niedermayerova went on to win the next three games, breaking Nakic’s serve for a second time and forcing the match into a third set.
K-State head coach Steve Bietau didn’t feel there was a large swing in the match’s momentum to bring Niedermayerova back into the match during the second set.
“There were a lot of unforced errors on her part, two or three a game,” Bietau said. “She was able to hold her serve most of the time. Early in the second set, when she first broke Nakic’s serve was when I could tell things were falling into place.
“There wasn’t just one thing that got her back into the match. She just kept hanging in there and competing really hard under tough conditions.”
In the final set, the two players traded points until the fifth game. Niedermayerova battled back to break Nakic’s serve for the third time on the afternoon to take a 3-2 lead in the frame. Niedermayerova then fended off a strong attempt from Nakic to even the match in the sixth game to take a commanding 4-2 lead that she would never look back from.
For the 2011-12 season, Niedermayerova owns an overall record of 24-12 (.667) and is 9-11 against ranked opponents.
With Thursday’s win, the product of Brno, Czech Republic, tied her career high for wins in a season and she is tied for fourth in school history for wins in a season.
For her career, Niedermayerova is 48-22 (.686) including a 16-13 mark against ITA ranked foes. Niedermayerova’s career singles winning percentage of .686 currently ranks third in school history.
Niedermayerova’s opponent on Friday will again be a familiar foe, as she will face No. 7 ranked and 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar of Texas A&M.
Niedermayerova and Sanchez-Quintanar have faced each other three times this season, with the Aggie winning all three of the meetings. Sanchez-Quintanar advanced to the Round of 16 with a 6-2, 6-0 win over No. 31 Joelle Kissell of North Carolina State.