But as expected, the tournament’s top seed and top-ranked player has survived to the weekend of the $75,000 event after a thrilling 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 quarterfinal win over power-hitting CoCo Vandeweghe on Friday at Tanoan Country Club.
“Everyone out here is really good,” said Riske, the 23-year-old from Pittsburgh. “You have to come out ready to fight every day.”
Friday’s match for Riske, who three weeks ago advanced to the U.S. Open’s fourth round with a dominating straight-sets victory over then-No. 7 Petra Kvitova, was as entertaining as the tournament watchers have seen all week.
Both players were vocal – Riske, with loud grunts after each shot and plenty of words of encouragement to herself between points. Meanwhile, Vandeweghe said plenty to herself, to umpires or just let out shouts of “Sugar!” or “Come on, CoCo!” when missing a shot.
“CoCo is an awesome player,” Riske said. “I’ve played her multiple times before, and she has one of the best serves on tour. It’s always challenging to face a player who serves that well. …
“She’s so entertaining, and I know her off court. She’s such a nice girl. I actually chuckled a few times there when she was like, ‘Sugar!’ or other things.”
Riske, who plans to go to Europe in October, hopes another couple of wins this weekend will add to her breakthrough season. Her national ranking has jumped more than 100 spots to 59th in the past few months.
“Every tournament is an opportunity – every match is an opportunity,” Riske said. “There are four more tournaments left after this. The sky is the limit.”
All was not lost for Vandeweghe, however. In the day’s final match, she and partner Eleni Daniilidou, seeded No. 3 in the doubles draw, beat No. 2 doubles seed Asia Muhammad and Allie Will, 6-1, 6-2, to advance to Sunday’s final.
Muhammad had won the doubles title in Albuquerque the past two years, with different partners.
OTHER MATCHES: In other singles quarterfinal action, Chieg-Yu Hsu beat ColemanVision regular Petra Rampre, 7-5, 6-0.
The 33-year-old Rampre, from Slovenia, first played in the Albuquerque event when it was a $50,000 tournament in its first year in 1998. Now the oldest player in this year’s draw, Rampre has been a regular at the tournament since 2003 and doesn’t plan on changing that.
“It’s always a good tournament I like playing in,” she said.
No. 8 seed Shelby Rogers beat 18-year-old Sachia Vickery 6-4, 6-4 and will play Hsu in today’s semifinal.
Riske, meanwhile, faces Anna Tatishvili, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Kristina Barrois on Thursday.