It was an emotional send-off for local favourite and former top-10 player Roberta Vinci in front of her supportive crowd after she played the last tournament of her storied career under the gloomy clouds at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia. With her ranking dipping to the 168th position, Vinci required a wildcard to enter the tournament in Rome and was drawn to face lucky-loser Aleksandra Krunic in the opening round.
Krunic ultimately recovered from a slow start and prevailed in three sets, marking the end of Vinci’s career in front of the partisan Italian crowd. The match took just 95 minutes to complete before an emotional retirement ceremony took place on the court after the encounter.
Vinci delights the home crowd, takes the one-sided first set 6-2
It was a nervy start for both players as the atmosphere was exceptionally special — with almost everyone in support for Vinci. Certainly, Krunic was slightly affected by the loud cheers in the early stages while the Italian turned those support into confidence. The former top-10 player had to fend off multiple break points in the third game, though Krunic would have rued her missed opportunities as she was immediately broken in the next game.
Both players were struggling on serve but it was a thrilling display of world-class baseline tennis with a variety of shots involved, particularly Vinci’s beautiful backhand slice shot. A series of consecutive breaks saw the Italian having the last laugh, holding a 4-2 lead after some tussles.
She even had to save another break point in the seventh game, and ultimately with some controlled aggression, Vinci was able to storm out to a commanding 5-2 advantage. Serving to stay in the set, Krunic was handing out free points with her countless errors and Vinci was eventually halfway to completing the huge upset after just 35 minutes of play.
Krunic fights back — whitewashes the local favourite
Adapting to her opponent’s backhand slice better, Krunic had the perfect start into the second set as she claimed the early break before powering to a commanding 3-0 lead with a double-break advantage. Vinci’s forehand completely broke down as she lost the momentum, finding herself in deep trouble as each point won helped Krunic build up her confidence.
A terrific one-two punch from Krunic saw her utilizing her powerful backhand to good use, coming up with an excellent shot placement to save a break point and tightly hold onto her lead. From there, it was one-way traffic as Vinci continued to spray errors while Krunic maintained her high quality of tennis. Within a blink of an eye, Krunic battled back to grab the second set 6-0, needing just 25 minutes to do so.
Vinci puts up a tough fight but Krunic triumphs
It was a run of eight consecutive games and eight consecutive points for Krunic to start the deciding set with, as Vinci looked totally out-of-sorts in what would be the last match of her career. Krunic was dictating play and she gave Vinci a taste of her own medicine as her own backhand slices started to cause some trouble as well.
Unexpectedly, Vinci came out of nowhere to level the scores at 3-3, kicking the doors wide open once more. However, she was unable to back up her run, as her leaky net approaches were exposed and exploited by Krunic, who immediately earned the break back. Serving at 3-5 down, Vinci showed some fight by saving two match points but Krunic, unfortunately, put a full stop to Vinci’s career after the Italian sent a forehand into the net.