WTA Hobart: Aussie wildcard Lizette Cabrera stuns fifth seed Misaki Doi in a thriller

Fifth seed Misaki Doi began her first round in Hobart against WTA tour main draw debutant Lizette Cabrera. On paper, it looked like a straightforward win for the fifth seed but the wildcard had other ideas. She took the first set hitting some stunning winners throughout. Doi though fought back to force a decider. The third set saw numerous breaks with both trying to gain ascendency. In the end, Cabrera’s boldness paid off aiding her to her first main draw win defeating Doi 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.

Cabrera wins the forehand battle

It was a showcase of forehand winners in the first set with Cabrera taking more risks and it paid off for the Australian who earned the break to go 3-1 up. Cabrera was going for her shots and consolidated the break to extend her lead to 4-1. Doi eventually found her rhythm to hold and keep within touching distance of the Australian.

Serving to stay in the set at 2-5, Doi was put under pressure by the teen. Cabrera’s forehand was doing all the damage setting up set point. The Japanese however responded well but struggled to find the edge to close out the game. Each time Doi created game point Cabrera responded with an even better shot but eventually after several minutes and saving three set points the Japanese held for 3-5.

The Cabrera which had been so good for most of the set started to let the teenager down just as she was serving for the set. Doi with a spring in her step now, capitalized on the errors and found the break back. After doing so well though Doi then faltered serving to make it 5-5, splaying her forehand wide to hand Cabrera her fourth set point. Cabrera eventually seized it to take the first set 6-4.

Cabrera takes the first set | Photo: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images
Cabrera takes the first set | Photo: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

Doi grinds her way to force a decider

The Japanese started the second set the better of the two pouncing on Cabrera’s mistake to gain an immediate break. The Australian though had her chances to break back in the fourth game after creating triple break point but Doi was unfazed saving all three before coming up with a clutch hold to hang on to her lead for 3-1. Cabrera did not give up though and was able to take her chance in the sixth game with another thunderous forehand to break back and level for 3-3.

The Australian nosed ahead for the first time in the set for 4-3 with a comfortable hold and Doi replied with the same. The Japanese was back at it though applying pressure on the Cabrera serve and the Australian despite saving a break point eventually caved in handing the advantage back to Doi. The Japanese however failed to serve it out allowing Cabrera to get back into the set for 5-5.

There was yet another twist left as Doi broke again and had a second chance to serve out the set. Cabrera gave everything but finally on her third set point the Japanese converted to seal the topsy-turvy set to force a decider.

Doi forces a third set | Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Doi forces a third set | Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Topsy turvy set goes right down to the wire

Doi was first to draw blood in the decider latching onto a short ball to set up break point. Cabrera was put on the backfoot and could not save the point as the Japanese broke for 2-1. Just when it looked like Doi had the upper hand, Cabrera responded but it did not stop there as the set saw six consecutive breaks of serve before the Australian eventually held to take a 5-4 lead on serve. The Japanese replied with a hold of her own for 5-5  as the match edged to the finish line.

The match was reaching a tense climax | Photo: Hobart International
The match was reaching a tense climax | Photo: Hobart International

Doi was in a mood to finish and carved out triple break point on the Cabrera serve. The Australian though was calm as ever fending off all three. She was displaying some smart tennis but was missing the easy shots and handed another chance to the Japanese. Cabrera once again defended brilliantly before coming up with a crucial hold for a 6-5 lead. The 19-year-old showing her strength in her forehand again coming up with a stinger that was too hot for Doi to handle conjuring up double set points. In the end, Cabrera needed just one of those to seal a huge win.