WTA Tianjin: Zhu Lin produces huge shock, sends Petra Kvitova out of the tournament

Zhu Lin produced a huge shock in the first round of the Tianjin Open as she managed to defeat second seed Petra Kvitova in three tough sets, excelling in front of her home crowd.

WTA Tianjin: Zhu Lin produces huge shock, sends Petra Kvitova out of the tournament
Zhu Lin celebrates her hard-fought win | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Zhu Lin
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Petra Kvitova

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.

Zhu Lin in action at the China Open, where she received a wildcard into the main draw | Photo: Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images AsiaPac
Zhu Lin in action at the China Open, where she received a wildcard into the main draw | Photo: Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images AsiaPac

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.

It was Kvitova's last match of the season | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
It was Kvitova's last match of the season | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

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 fighting spirit of Kvitova was evident today, despite not playing her best tennis | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
The fighting spirit of Kvitova was evident today, despite not playing her best tennis | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

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.

Both players meet at the net after the encounter | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Both players meet at the net after the encounter | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography