Third seed and defending champion Anna Karolina Schmiedlova started off her title defense against Aliaksandra Sasnovich. On paper, it may have looked a straightforward one for the third seed but with Schmiedlova still looking for her first win on the WTA tour since January, the match was up for grabs.
After looking comfortable early in the first set, the Slovak let Sasnovich edge it out 6-4. The defending champion came right back to force a decider. Seemingly looking to be in control to see out the match, Schmiedlova then lost five games in a row from 5-2 up as the Belarusian knocked out the defending champion 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
Schmiedlova fades away after starting strong
The defending champion was off to a great start finding an immediate break and consolidated it with a love hold for a 2-0 lead. Schmiedlova was oozing confidence hitting freely and went on to win nine points in a row before Sasnovich won her first point of the match. As opposed to the Slovak, Sasnovich looked nervy and uncomfortable and missed an overhead shot in the third game to hand a break point to Schmiedlova. She survived that and a few more break points, even though she was struggling with her serve, to get on board for 1-2.
The Belarusian though got right back into the match benefitting from a double fault to level the set 2-2. However, errors cost hr in the next game allowing Schmiedlova to edge ahead once more for 3-2. The Belarusian looked to have tightened up her service game closing out her game after seeing off a break point to stay in touch with the Slovak for 3-4. However, neither player seemed to be able to take control of the match as Schmiedlova was broken once more for 4-4.
With Sasnovich taking the lead for the first time for 5-4, the pressure was on the Slovak to serve to stay in the set. The Belarusian was riding the momentum, hitting with confidence and got herself a triple set point. On the verge of losing the fourth game in a row, Schmiedlova managed to save a couple of set points but on her third point, her shot sailed wide, handing Sasnovich the first set.
Schmiedlova storms back
The second set started the same way as the first with Schmiedlova relieving some pressure off of herself to get an early break. And this time, she completed the double break before racing to a 4-0 lead. Sasnovich eventually stopped the rot despite an increasing number of errors from her racket to trail 1-4.
The Belarusian tried mixing it up with drop shots to unsettle the Slovak, but Schmiedlova braved them to hold for 5-1. Sasnovich who had to serve to keep herself in the set was outplayed by the Slovak who earned a triple set point. With a drop shot and some brilliant hitting, the Belarusian brought the game to deuce. However, with pressure mounting, Sasnovich could not hang on as Schmiedlova stormed to take the set 6-1.
Schmiedlova once again lets lead slip succumbing under pressure
Sasnovich started bright shortening the angles and working Schmiedlova to earn an early break. However, it didn’t last for long as Schmiedlova broke back to bring the match back on serve with a hold for 2-1. The Slovak then surged ahead 3-1 as the Belarusian struggled to hold serve.
However, Sasnovich was not backing down without a fight unleashing some fierce forehands looking to find the break back immediately. With their rallies getting longer, Schmiedlova was fending off break points with some good defense. The Belarusian’s persistence paid off though as she eventually found the break back on her third opportunity. With a chance to level the set, Sasnovich, however, let her hard work go to waste as errors allowed Schmiedlova to extend her lead to 4-2. The defending champion then hung on to hold for a 5-2 lead.
The Slovak managed to hold serve for the first time in the set to make Schmiedlova serve out the victory. With the Belarusian hitting a wild return, Schmiedlova had match point only to see it snuffed out with a huge forehand. There was another twist to the match though as the Slovak caved under pressure allowing Sasnovich to eventually climb back to 5-5.
It was falling apart for the defending champion who lost the fourth game in a row to give the advantage to the Belarusian. As most games in the set, it wasn’t a straightforward one as Schmiedlova tried to find her way back. Sasnovich eventually hung on and sealed the win with an ace.