Zhuhai | Sevastova shuts out Zhang
In the Camellia Group, 2nd-seeded Anastasija Sevastova won her first match at the 2018 Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai in style, edging past Chinese wildcard Zhang Shuai and sending her out of the tournament in a straight sets thriller.
The group winner will be decided by the winner of the match between Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza (7) and Sevastova on Friday.
After notching the perfect start, winning the opening set to love, the Latvian had to fight through an inspired come-back effort to defeat Zhang, 6-0 7-6(10), after a rollercoaster hour and 28 minutes.
Sevastova is now a win away from the second straight semi-final in Zhuhai as she beat Zhang to claim the 6th straight victory over Chinese opposition.
She dominated the opening set and moved 5-3 up in the second, then she came back from 1-5 down in the tiebreak to level, at 7-7, her win-loss record at that stage.
The Latvian, playing Zhuhai on a career-high ranking of No 11, reached her 44th victory of the season and could break into the Top 10 by reaching the final this week but standing in her way is her nemesis Muguruza, who leads their head-to-heads 2-1.
Sevastova posted a nearly untouchable performance in the opening set, winning all 12 points across her 3 service games, claiming 100% of first serves and second serves.
As a result, she didn’t face break point at all, and Zhang shouldered all the pressure.
Sevastova broke to start the first set after a marathon game, notching a 1-0 start, and then she struck again 2 games later, converting her 3rd break point to claim another lengthy game and extend her lead to 3-0.
She didn’t look back from there, reeling off the next three games in a row to complete the shutout, but it was a completely different story in the second set as Zhang rode the enthusiastic wave of Chinese support from the Zhuhai crowd to an inspired comeback effort.
The fans roared as Zhang finally got on the scoreboard at 1-0, stopping the run of 6 consecutive games against her.
The Latvian came out on top after a spate of 3 straight breaks of serve left her ahead at 3-2, and had 3 chances to extend her at 4-3, Zhang holding firm to deny her the break points.
Sevastova served for the match at 5-4, and was 2 points from victory when Zhang finally broke back and they went neck and neck into the tiebreak where the Chinese pulled away to a fast 5-1 lead.
The Latvian didn’t stay down for long, denying Zhang 6 set points in total as she turned around the score and finally converted her 2nd match point to seal the victory.