Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova survived a tough challenge from qualifier En-Shuo Liang of Chinese Taipei to progress to the second round of the WTA250 Chennai Open at the SDAT Stadium in Nungambakkam on Monday.
Playing in extremely windy conditions on Court No. 1, Fruhvirtova came back from a set down to defeat 2018 Junior Australian Open champion Liang 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in 2 hours and 16 minutes.
The 17-year-old Fruhvirtova had reached the second round at the recently concluded US Open in what was her Grand Slam main draw debut.
Prague-born Fruhvirtova struggled with her first serve (five double faults) in the opening set. Liang, 5’2”, troubled the young Czech with her powerful forehand shots on both sides of the court, leaving her opponent scrambling on several occasions.
The two players exchanged breaks of serve in the third and fourth game before Liang got the decisive break in the seventh and served the set out. Fruhvirtova opted for an outfit change and a toilet break.
The Czech player improved her first-serve percentage in the second set, starting with a couple of aces up the T. At the same time, Liang’s level began to dip as she hit a few forehands onto the net. Fruhvirtova was given a time violation while serving for the set and argued, “It’s humid. I had gone for the towel. I was already into service motion within time.”
The final set had a topsy-turvy start as there were four breaks of serve in the first six games with both players stepping up to attack the first serves of the other. However, from 3-3, Fruhvirtova reeled off the next three games to seal the victory.
Earlier in the day, Poland’s Katarzyna Kawa defeated Aussie Astra Sharma 6-4, 6-3. Japanese Nao Hibino beat Croatian Jana Fett 6-0, 6-4 in the battle of the qualifiers while seventh-seeded Canadian Rebecca Marino overcame a sluggish start to win 7-5, 6-2 against Russian Anna Blinkova.
In the only doubles match of the day, the unseeded British-Lithuanian duo of Emily Webley-Smith and Justina Mikulskyte upset the third-seeded Georgian-Ukrainian pair of Oksana Kalashnikova and Nadiia Kichenok 3-6, 6-2, [10-8].
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