Ekaterina Alexandrova staged a fine comeback to defeat Kim Clijsters 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 in one hour, 45 minutes in the first round of the US Open. Playing on a cool night on Court 17, the Belgian broke midway through the first set and held her advantage to take a one-set lead in her first appearance at Flushing Meadows since 2012.
Breaks were exchanged early in the second set and both players had to save additional break chances before Alexandrova broke in the 12th game to force a third set. The decider was dominated by the Russian as she broke Clijsters all three times she served to secure one of the best victories of her career.
Alexandrova produces fightback to eliminate three-time US Open champion
Clijsters was pushed to deuce in the third game of the match, but a big forehand forced Alexandrova into an error and she netted a backhand on game point as the Belgian held. She broke in the next game as another powerful forehand forced the 21st seed to net to go ahead 3-1. A love hold extended her advantage to 4-1.
Alexandrova had a chance to break trailing 4-2 only to misfire on a backhand when holding break point. Trailing 5-2, the Russian fended off four set points in a 22-point marathon game to hold for 5-3, but she would make no impression on the Clijsters serve as the three-time US Open champion held to love to claim the opening set.
The server was under pressure as the second set began with Alexandrova recovering from 15-40 in the opening game and then breaking to go in front 2-0. She was then broken right back after a double fault. In the seventh game, the Russian again was forced to save a break point to stay in front 4-3.
Clijsters saved two set points in the tenth game while Alexandrova fended off a break chance the next game. Finally, on her fourth set point, the 21st seed was level as the Belgian fired a forehand just over the baseline to push the match to a third set.
The final set saw Clijsters break in the opening game, but she was broken right back after sending a forehand well long. A quick hold gave the Russian a 2-1 lead and she was up a break soon after as Clijsters double-faulted. Alexandrova battled to hold and extend her advantage to 4-1.
A tired-looking Clijsters then dropped serve for a fifth time in the match after a brilliant forehand down the line by Alexandrova gave her a 5-1 lead and a chance to serve out the match. An ace brought up match point and a big serve down the middle forced an error off of the Belgian's racket to secure her spot in the second round.