WTA Shenzhen: Agnieszka Radwanska escapes by a whisker against Duan Yingying
Agnieszka Radwanska, the defending champion here in Shenzhen | Photo by: Shenzhen Open

WTA Shenzhen: Agnieszka Radwanska escapes by a whisker against Duan Yingying

Top seed Agnieszka Radwanska triumphed in a thriller that saw her save three match points and escape narrowly from a huge upset.

don-han
Don Han

The Shenzhen Open draw was kind to the top seed Agnieszka Radwanska as she was drawn against Duan Yingying in the opening round match, with Duan being a native wildcard. With Duan’s game similar to Lindsay Davenport, it could be able to trouble Radwanska as the Pole plays a defensive style of tennis. However, Radwanska was still the heavy favorite as she is the higher-ranked player, and can play offensive tennis as well. It turned out that the world number three was just too good for the wildcard in the end, as Radwanska saved three match points to triumph in the thriller.

Radwanska races out to early lead

Duan started the match poorly after her unforced errors cost her in the first game of the match, causing her to get broken by the top seed Radwanska. The number of unforced errors from Duan increased as the match progresses, resulting in a second break of service for Radwanska and allowed her to take a 4-0 lead, having the first set in her sights.

Radwanska at the 2016 WTA Finals | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac
Radwanska at the 2016 WTA Finals | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac

The Chinese wildcard, dubbed as the “Chinese Davenport” due to her explosive serve and big offensive game, finally got onto the scoreboard at 1-4, having to save a break point in the process to prevent Radwanska from having a chance to serve for the set. Showing some nerves when serving to stay in the set, Duan threw in some unforced errors yet again, but still managed to hold her serve to stay in the set. It turned out to be just a consolation hold of serve as Radwanska immediately held her serve to win the set 6-2 after just 33 minutes.

Duan starts set with a lead

The wildcard had the perfect start to the second set, winning the first three games to start the set with, and give her a real chance to level the match at one set all. Duan almost extended her lead at 4-1, where she held a break point opportunity, but wasted it after she could not respond quick enough to a Radwanska forehand. With the momentum in her after carving out a tough hold, Radwanska broke back to keep the second set on serve and increased her hopes of closing the match out in straight sets. Nevertheless, Duan was not to be easily defeated as she extended the set into a tiebreak to decide its winner. Duan once again jumped out to an early lead, earning a 4-1 advantage within a blink of an eye. The tiebreak ended the way it start, with 3 consecutive mini-breaks, with Duan eventually taking it 7-4 to level the match

Duan Yingying at the 2016 US Open | Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images North America
Duan Yingying at the 2016 US Open | Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images North America

Duan gets early lead once again but gets pegged back

The Chinese looked poised for a big upset when she broke the Pole’s serve in the opening game of the final set, but the lead did not last long as the top-seeded player broke back immediately and went on a mini-run, winning three games in a row to lead by a break. From 2-1, there were four consecutive breaks of serve, showing how vulnerable both player’s service games are. Duan was the first to break after they returned on serve, and had the opportunity to serve out the match and for the big upset. Duan almost successfully served it out, and held three match point opportunities. However, Radwanska used her experience and showed nerves of steel to save all three match points and break back immediately. Radwanska got back the momentum and held her serve to regain the lead and be a game away from victory. Duan once again showed some nerves serving to stay in the match and was two points away from extending the set into a tiebreak once again at 30-30. However, Duan lost that point, which was arguably the best rally of the match, to give the 2015 WTA Finals champion her first match point. She dutifully converted it, and won the thriller after a little under two and a half hours, saving three match points. Radwanska actually played a near-to-flawless match, hitting 32 winners and just six unforced errors. Whereas, Duan also played a good match other than the first set, hitting 50 winners but 22 errors.

Radwanska with her China Open title in Beijing | Photo: Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images AsiaPac
Radwanska with her China Open title in Beijing | Photo: Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images AsiaPac

Tricky opponent up next for Radwanska

Radwanska proceeds to the second round after this dramatic victory and would face Romanian Sorana Cirstea, a former top 20 players who has fallen in the rankings due to injury problems. The Pole leads their head to head record by 5-2, with a stand-out scoreline being a double bagel victory by the world number three.

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