Knapp Topples Top Seed In Tashkent
Published September 11, 2012 04:46
Four years ago Knapp was as high as No.35 in the world rankings but since then an injury ravaged few years has seen her tumble out of the Top 100. However, on Centre Court at the Olympic Tennis School, she rolled back the years, battling past Niculsecu in three absorbing sets.
The early stages gave no indication of the drama that was to follow, as Niculescu used her unorthodox game to outmaneuver and outclass Knapp en route to the opening set. Knapp finally began to find her rhythm in the second, pinning the Romanian back with her high-intensity baseline attack and breaking decisively in the eighth game to force a decider.
There was no let up from Knapp in the third, and despite failing to serve the match out at 5-4, she was not to be denied, finishing the job off a few games later for a 26 63 75 victory.
"Monica is a very unusual player, but I have played her before and I knew to win I had to push myself and hit the ball hard, so that's what I did!" Knapp said. "I only just landed here and didn't have any rhythm at the beginning but as the match progressed I started getting my strokes."
Niculescu was not the only seed failing to make it past the first hurdle in the Uzbek capital. No.4 seed Magdalena Rybarikova joined her on early flight home when she fell to a surprise defeat to 16-year-old qualifier Donna Vekic.
Playing her first WTA main draw match, Vekic made bright start and despite seeing her early lead - and three set points - evaporate, she showed maturity beyond her tender years to rebound and take the first set on a tie-break with a brilliant backhand down the line.
There was to be no fight back from Rybarikova in the second, with breaks in the first and ninth games sending Vekic on her way to a 76(3) 63 win.
"It's my first Top 100 win and it really feels great and I'm very happy," Vekic said. "When I was 5-3 up with three set points I was very nervous, but then I played confidently in the tie-break and the rest of the match."
Elsewhere, there were hard-fought wins for Alexandra Cadantu, Bojana Jovanovski and Galina Voskoboeva. Cadantu overcame an attack of final set nerves to finally see off qualifier Ekaterina Bychkova, 36 64 75, while Jovanovski and Voskoboeva were also pushed the distance against Dinah Pfizenmaier and Vesna Dolonc, respectively.