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Zahlavova Strycova's Momentum Still Alive

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova's winning streak continued, while Shahar Peer saved match point to win.

Published September 25, 2011 12:00

Zahlavova Strycova's Momentum Still Alive
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova

TOKYO, Japan - Seven days ago Barbora Zahlavova Strycova completed a dream week in Québec City, winning her first WTA title - almost halfway across the world in Tokyo on Sunday afternoon she kept that momentum going, winning her first round match at the Premier-level Toray Pan Pacific Open.

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Although it probably wasn't the ending she wanted, Zahlavova Strycova scored a 76(2) 41 retirement win over Anastasija Sevastova when the Latvian had to stop due to a right hip injury. But early in the match the two players put on an impressive display, battling for an hour and 17 minutes in the first set alone.

Sevastova held serve in the first game of the second set but Zahlavova Strycova reeled off four quick games - winning 16 of 20 points - when Sevastova stopped.

"I was nervous before the match because I won a title and thought maybe I've played too many matches," Zahlavova Strycova said. "The first set was such a battle - I think we were both nervous. But I'm happy to win. I feel bad because my opponent had to retire, but I'm happy because I wasn't playing too badly."

Before Québec City, Zahlavova Strycova had 14 doubles titles to her name on the WTA but no singles. Needless to say the triumph gave her a boost in the individual discipline. "It feels amazing. It's nice to know I can win matches and tournaments. The first one is always the toughest, and I believe in myself now."

And how does she feel about Tokyo? "I love being in Japan," the Czech added. "They care so much about us here and it's such a nice tournament."

The first three seeds to take the court all won, though two of them had far easier days at the office. No.9 seed Agnieszka Radwanska rolled past Japanese wildcard Misaki Doi, 61 61; No.11 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Arantxa Rus, 64 63; and in the most dramatic match of the day, No.16 seed Shahar Peer rallied from 64 52 down - even saving match point down 64 54 - for a comeback victory against Czech wildcard Kristyna Pliskova, 46 75 61.

Also among the winners was Angelique Kerber, who burst into prominence three weeks ago with a run to the US Open semifinals. A qualifier in Tokyo, the German routed Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski in 50 minutes, 61 60.

Irina-Camelia Begu, Ayumi Morita, Greta Arn, Tamarine Tanasugarn and British wildcard Laura Robson were also among the Day 1 winners. Robson made quick work of tenacious Romanian player Alexandra Dulgheru, 62 62.

"I feel like I justified my wildcard a little bit," Robson said. "I've been working really hard the last few months, especially on my fitness and my consistency. I'm glad it's all coming together. I'm really looking forward to my next match.

"I love Tokyo. We went sightseeing the other night and it's an amazing city. All the fans are great and I'm really excited to be playing here."

In the last match, Kaia Kanepi upset No.15 seed Flavia Pennetta, 36 64 64.

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