WTA Auckland: Barbora Strycova battles for three hours, ousts Sara Errani in marathon thriller

In what was the longest WTA match of 2018 thus far, Barbora Strycova defeated Sara Errani 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 after exactly three hours of play, playing out a thriller for the Auckland crowd.

WTA Auckland: Barbora Strycova battles for three hours, ousts Sara Errani in marathon thriller
Barbora Strycova celebrates winning a point during the match | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac
Barbora Strycova
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Sara Errani

In the 11th meeting of their respective careers, Barbora Strycova and Sara Errani played out another thriller at the 2018 ASB Classic, being part of a marathon three-hour classic encounter on just the second day of the new year.

Both tireless players had countless lengthy rallies, and the fans were treated to a delightful match as Strycova continued to improve her record against the former top-five player, winning the third consecutive match between them.

Barbora Strycova in action under the hot sun | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac
Barbora Strycova in action under the hot sun | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac

Strycova storms to the first set

It was Strycova who had a better start into the match, as everything clicked for her early on. Consistent serving helped set up her beautiful net game, and the defensive-minded Errani had no chances. The Czech was firing on her groundstrokes, claiming eight of the next nine points to take a formidable 4-1 lead.

Errani was determined to lessen the deficit, and she responded in the best possible way. Her forehand soon became a lethal weapon, leaving Strycova having no answers, allowing the Italian to grab a break back. Series of holds followed, but it was coincidentally when Strycova attempted to serve out the set, a break point was conceived. Nonetheless, the Czech remained composed and sent in some good serves, ultimately closing out the first set 6-4 after 46 minutes of play.

Barbora Strycova prepares for an overhead shot | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac
Barbora Strycova prepares for an overhead shot | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac

Errani does the impossible

Turning the tables on Strycova, the Italian grew more aggressive as the match progressed and she was close to taking the lead multiple times. Fortunately, the Czech hung in there, and her perseverance paid off as she finally made the first breakthrough in the seventh game, where Errani surprisingly made a slew of unforced errors.

Errani then came up with several gorgeous winners, but it wasn’t enough to help her break back as Strycova stood firm to fend off multiple break points in a marathon game. Just when it mattered, the world number 23 faltered as she paved a way for Errani to break back, sending the set into a tiebreak. It was a one-sided tiebreak, with Errani looking sharper amongst the both to complete the comeback.

Sara Errani put up a tough fight but Strycova proved to be just too good | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac
Sara Errani put up a tough fight but Strycova proved to be just too good | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac

Strycova comes out of topsy-turvy final set

The final set was break points galore, with a total of 16 break points surfacing and seven of them converted. The only game which had a break point, but not converted, was the third game where Strycova came up with some precise hitting, overwhelming the stubborn Errani defense to consolidate the break.

After what seemed like an eternity, Strycova was the first to hold serve, sealing her service game in impressive fashion after blasting an ace on game point, putting herself just one game away from the win. Errani’s vulnerable serves, alongside her nervy errors, were her downfall as she was broken to love, gifting the win to Strycova after a marathon three hours of play.

Barbora Strycova in action during her marathon victory | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac
Barbora Strycova in action during her marathon victory | Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images AsiaPac