DOHA, Qatar - Petra Cetkovska has endured a difficult few years on tour, watching her ranking plummet following injuries to first her right and then her left ankle. But on Thursday at the Qatar Total Open the Czech was finally given reason to cheer when she knocked out Australian Open champion and top seed Li Na, 76(2) 26 64.
Such has been her fall down the WTA's pecking order that Cetkovska did not even make the trip to Australia last month, watching on from her Paris home as Li defeated Dominika Cibulkova to lift her second major.
Yet despite the gulf in their respective rankings and recent achievements, at no stage did Cetkovska look overawed. In the past, the 29-year-old has displayed a knack of raising her game when up against the world's best and more than held her own in the opening stages.
Match sharp having already come through qualifying and two main draw matches, Cetkovska played an intelligent first set, teasing the errors from the Li racquet whilst attacking whenever the opportunity arose.
After taking the opener on a tie-break, the World No.134 had the opportunity to build on this momentum when she carved out two break points in the first game of the second set. A couple of misjudged drop shots saw Li escape and she made Cetkovska pay, rattling through the final four games of the set to level the match up.
With Li in danger of running away with the contest, Cetkovska called upon her coach, Stéphane Charret.
The Frenchman's message was clear: keep fighting. And Cetkovska proved a willing pupil, hanging onto Li's coattails before summoning a moment of inspiration to claim the decisive break with an instinctive blocked lob. Soon afterwards she arrived at match point, closing out a famous victory when Li's backhand sailed long.
"Well, it's difficult to describe at the moment, because I've just sat down after coming from the court, and it's an amazing victory," Cetkovska said. "But I'm very, very happy with the performance today. Even though I was 3-1 down in the third set, I managed to make it and get through. So I'm really, really happy, of course. It's an amazing win for me."
It is the second time Cetkovska has defeated the WTA's No.3-ranked player - in 2012 she overcame Agnieszka Radwanska in Rome - although she is already turning her attention to the next challenge, a quarterfinal against Angelique Kerber.
"It's amazing, and, yes, it will certainly give me confidence. But at the moment I'm tired, too.
"It's very important to keep concentrated for tomorrow to get ready again."