In a battle between two Top 20 players in the first round of the Western and Southern Open, Elena Vesnina came from a break down in the final set as she prevailed in a tough three-set match against fellow hard-hitter Caroline Garcia to progress to the second round where she would face the in-form Caroline Wozniacki.
Garcia recovers from deficit to clinch the first set
Coming into the match firing, Vesnina held her serve to love in the opening game as she looked very solid on her serve. The Russian then consistently attacked the vulnerable second serves of Garcia, which allowed her to earn a break point in the second game.
Nevertheless, the Frenchwoman overcame her early nerves to narrowly hold her serve, preventing herself from lagging behind on the scoreboard. Vesnina continued to dictate play over an erratic Garcia, rattling eight straight points to capture the first break and open up a 3-1 lead.
However, Vesnina played a loose service game to gift Garcia the break back, returning on serve in the set. Garcia upped her level of play as the match progressed, and threatened to take the lead in the seventh game when she owned two break points.
Nonetheless, Vesnina held firm and kept her in contention for the set when she managed to hold her serve for a 4-3 lead. However, it was only one-way traffic from then on as Garcia was more solid on the crucial points, claiming the next three games to win the first set 6-4 after 41 minutes despite winning fewer points.
Vesnina plays some solid tennis to clinch the second set at the eleventh hour
Both players were very solid and consistent on their serves, and the whole of the second set did not see a break point just until the last game. Vesnina often looked threatened by Garcia’s powerful returns, but she displayed her tough mentality when she did not break down at the crucial moments; coming up with some of her best serves to increase her chances of sending the match into a deciding game.
Her patience was finally rewarded as Garcia failed to find her crucial first serves in the tenth game and allowed Vesnina to pounce on them as the Russian came out of nowhere to claim the second set 6-4. Garcia was ultimately betrayed by her second serves, not being able to win a point behind it in this set.
Vesnina comes from 2-4 down to prevail after 126 minutes
The scores were kept very tight in the opening stages of the final set, but it was Vesnina who played the first loose game of the decider as she was unable to create an impact with her second serves, and the determination of Garcia pushed her to the first break of the deciding set for the lead.
The Frenchwoman then came from 0-30 down to consolidate the break, opening a formidable 4-2 lead as she edged closer to the huge victory. However, the Russian was there to put up a tough fight as Vesnina won eight of the next nine points to level the scores all of a sudden, gaining the momentum and the confidence.
Garcia had the golden opportunity to regain the lead when she earned three break points in the pivotal ninth game of the final set, but Vesnina was able to be fearless on the crucial points as the Russian narrowly held her serve for a 5-4 lead, forcing the Frenchwoman to serve to stay in the set.
The pressure seemed to have gotten to Garcia as she committed a couple of unforced errors to gift Vesnina with two match points. Eventually, the Indian Wells champion was second time lucky when her opponent netted a forehand, clinching the win after 2 hours and 6 minutes of play, coming back from a 2-4 deficit in the final set to triumph.