SYDNEY, Australia — French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova has fought back from a first-set bagel and saved seven match points to beat Anett Kontaveit 0-6 6-4 7-6 (14-12) and seize a place in the Sydney Tennis Classic final.
The clash between Czech world No.3 Krejcikova and in-form world No.4 Kontaveit days out from the Australian Open appeared a must-watch on paper, and it lived up to its billing.
Kontaveit ruthlessly blitzed her higher-ranked opponent to take the first set in just 28 minutes, before Krejcikova upped her aggression and snared the second set, then outlasted the Estonian.
“I just planned to fight more and just try to stay in the match and I felt that ‘at some point I’m going to get my chances and it’s important to convert them,'” Krejcikova told the Nine Network.
“She was playing really aggressive and with my game, with playing more consistent, it just wasn’t working
“So I had to find a plan B and I’m really happy that I found a plan B and then I think it was a wonderful match.”
Krejcikova settled in the second set, then at 4-4, broke Kontaveit’s serve before comfortably holding serve to get back on level footing.
The pair traded breaks early in the third set, then settled into an arm wrestle.
A fired-up Kontaveit had three match points on Krejcikova’s serve when leading 6-5 but the Czech delivered under pressure, defending all three, then holding serve to force the match to a tiebreak.
Krejcikova earned two match points at 6-4 in the tiebreak, but Kontaveit saved both.
The tiebreak then proved a cat-and-mouse scenario, with Kontaveit saving two further match points, while Krejcikova saved four.
Krejcikova converted her fifth match point to seal a memorable victory.