Sorana Cirstea continued her love affair with Brazil at the 2016 Rio Open presented by Claro, defeating home favourite Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2, 6-1 to win her first WTA main draw match since the 2015 Bucharest Open and her 10th match in 11 matches.
Cirstea Wins Titanic Opening Set
Having played just two weeks ago at the $25,000 ITF event in Guaruja, a city approximately seven hours away from Rio de Janeiro by car, both players were familiar with one another’s games, and it was the home favourite who got off to the better start, breaking straight away to open proceedings. However, Cirstea, a former world number 21, responded with a break of her own to draw level at 1-all. From there, the Romanian would hang on to her next service game before breaking for a second time, and seemed to be running away with the first set when she opened up a 3-1 lead. Haddad Maia, on the other hand, was not prepared to fade away so quickly, and broke straight back a game later. Unfazed by her opponent’s short fightback, Cirstea remained calm, and immediately for a third time – an advantage she refused to surrender for the remainder of the set. Not long thereafter, the Romanian consolidated the early break to 15, thus opening a 5-2 lead. When given a chance to close out the opening set in the following game, Cirstea barely missed a beat, converting her first set point to win the opening set 6-2 in 33 minutes.
In a set where six of the eight games were won by the receiver, Cirstea was able to hold her nerve and serve when it really mattered, and that’s what ultimately won her the opening set.
Cirstea Races Away with Second Set; Claims Comprehensive Straight Sets Victory
Beginning the second set right where she left off in the opening set, Cirstea opened the set with a hold and a break without losing a single point, sending a clear statement of intent that she wanted to get this done and dusted as soon as possible. Unfortunately, when the Romanian stepped to the line with a chance to consolidate the early break, it began to pour, washing out the entire clay court that later had to be flushed out in order to be in playing condition.
But when play resumed four hours later, Cirstea seemed to have barely missed a beat, converting her first game point to open up a 3-0 lead. The world number 199 even had three opportunities to go up a double break a game later but to the credit of Haddad Maia, the Brazilian refused to give in, winning five points in a row to get on the board. But unfortunately for the 19-year-old, that would be the last game she won all match as from there, it was all Cirstea – the Romanian effectively imposing her powerful game on the world number 228 to hold for 4-1. It was only a matter of time until the former world number 21 broke for a sixth time, thus giving herself at least two opportunities to serve out the match.
In the end, Cirstea proved she only needed the one as she successfully converted her first match point to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-1 victory, which is just her first WTA main draw victory since the 2015 Bucharest Open.
The Romanian will face fifth seed Polona Hercog on Wednesday for a spot in the last eight.