Zhu Lin produced an incredible upset in the first round of the Tianjin Open, defeating the second-seeded Petra Kvitova with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 scoreline for the biggest win of her career. Zhu took the first set before earning the golden opportunity to serve out the match in set two, but the pressure seemed to have affected her greatly as Kvitova managed to send the encounter into a decider. The Chinese player finally managed to serve out the match on her third opportunity in the final set, claiming the win in front of her home crowd.
Tight start to the match but Zhu makes the first breakthrough
Kvitova came into the match knowing that she is the huge favorite considering Zhu’s last WTA main draw win came all the way back in July, and the Czech herself also recently reached the semifinals in Beijing, entering Tianjin in some great form. Surprisingly, the scores were kept really tight in the opening stages of the match, with no break points surfacing in the first eight games which saw both players perform really well on their serves.
After eight consecutive service holds, it was Kvitova who played a loose service game as she threw in a couple of unforced errors, sending a forehand into the net on Zhu’s third break point of the game and gifted her lower-ranked opponent the first breakthrough of the match, allowing her to have the golden opportunity to serve out the set. Having to overcome her nerves and the pressure, Zhu ultimately served out the first set 6-4 after saving a break point as Kvitova was unable to put in a consistent performance.
Zhu continues to excel, leads by a set and a break
Kvitova had to overcome a nervy start to the second set, as she looked determined for a comeback after saving a break point to narrowly hold serve in the opening game. Zhu, riding on her momentum, soon made the first breakthrough as she broke serve in the third game, with Kvitova looking lackluster throughout the encounter. Unexpectedly, the former two-time Wimbledon champion broke straight back and returned on serve, finding back the rhythm on her serve.
Kvitova fights back to claim the second set
The slight hiccups keep coming for Kvitova as she played a sloppy service game to hand back the advantage, with her low first-serve percentage certainly not helping at all. Being 5-3 up in the second set, the pressure inevitably came in for the inexperienced Chinese as she was unable to capitalize on her opportunities, and she soon found Kvitova taking the second set 7-5 within a blink of an eye, despite being two points away from the win while serving for the match.
Zhu regains her composure and takes the lead
Many thought that Kvitova would stroll to the win after rebounding to take the second set, but they did not expect Zhu to be so tough mentally as she followed suit with an excellent service hold after the Czech produced a love service hold in the opening game. The inconsistency of Kvitova seemed to have kicked in once more, with the second seed losing 12 of the next 14 points from 1-1.
The Chinese finally closes out the win
Zhu had several troubles consolidating the second break, but she managed to fend off a break point to do so, coming up with some aggressive play of her own for a huge 5-1 lead. However, the decider seemed like a replica of the second set when Kvitova stormed back to lessen the deficit to just one solitary game, with Zhu missing out on two match points. Attempting to serve out the match for the third time in the evening, the underdog finally managed to seal the win after two hours and 18 minutes, managing to overcome her nerves at the eleventh hour.