NÜRNBERG, Germany - No.6 seed Sorana Cirstea came all the way back to see off home favorite Andrea Petkovic in the first round of the Nürnberger Versicherungscup on Tuesday, 2-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(5).
The Romanian came from 6-2, 2-0 down to force a decider, and not only battled back from a break deficit twice in the decider, but won the last four points of the tiebreak to see off the former World No.9 and wildcard on home soil in two hours and 45 minutes.
"I'm very happy with the win - not so happy about my game, but sometimes when there are days like this, you have to fight and keep going," Cirstea said after the match. "It was a battle out there, and it could've gone either way. I was the lucky one, and now I have a chance to play better tomorrow."
Petkovic, now ranked World No.107, was looking for her best win in terms of ranking since defeating Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open in January over the World No.45, and took advantage of an erratic start from the No.6 seed.
After rolling through the first set by winning six of the last seven games with three service breaks, Petkovic's momentum continued early into the second set as she extended her games won streak to six.
However, Cirstea never proved beaten despite the deficit, winning the next four games and bouncing back with an emphatic tiebreak after Petkovic was one game away from victory.
There was little to separate the two veterans in their first career meeting in the decider, and though the German broke twice to the delight of the faithful in the crowd, Cirstea returned for an immediate break back in both the second and eighth games of the final set.
"It was definitely not easy. Andrea is a very good friend of mine and a great girl. I tried to focus on the match and not on the crowd, but they're so well-behaved with fair play. I love to play here and that's one of the reasons I keep coming back because the people are so amazing."
The Romanian saved a break point which would've seen Petkovic serve for the match in the 10th game of the decider - a theme for a match in which she saved nine of the 16 break points she faced - and upped her game one final time with her back against the wall to grind out the marathon victory.
Up next, Cirstea will face American Madison Brengle, who came through a clash with her compatriot Varvara Lepchenko on Sunday, 6-1, 6-3.
It's going to be a tough match. We haven't played each other lately, but I know her quite well and she knows me," Cirstea said. "Though it'll be tough, that's why I'm here. I'm here to battle and hopefully get another win."