WUHAN, China - WTA Rising Star Anna Karolina Schmiedlova came back from the brink to upset former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in a marathon second round encounter at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open on Tuesday.
Trailing by a set and 4-1, Schmiedlova appeared to be heading towards the exit only to produce a turnaround worthy of her esteemed opponent. Displaying poise that belied her tender years, the Slovak held her nerve to prevail, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(6), in a contest lasting over three hours.
Schmiedlova - whose career best win going into the match was against then-No.15 Agnieszka Radwanska this summer in Cincinnati - struggled to conceal her delight - and exhaustion - in her on-court interview: "I'm very, very happy and very, very tired right now!"
Victory over Wozniacki is the latest highlight of a year to remember for Schmiedlova, who is making a beeline for the Top 20 thanks to titles in Katowice and Bucharest and a number of reputation-enhancing showings elsewhere. However, for the first set and a half against the Dane, her busy schedule looked to have finally caught up with her.
Perhaps buoyed by her recent results, Schmiedlova never stopped believing, pinching the second set from under the nose of a disbelieving Wozniacki. Both players had their moments in the decider, but it was the younger player's shots that appeared to pack more of a punch.
None more so than the crosscourt backhand that followed yet another energy-sapping rally to bring up two match points in the tie-break. While these came and went, there was to be no denying Schmiedlova her moment, crossing the finishing line when Wozniacki's weary limbs sent the ball beyond the baseline.
Schmiedlova will now face Kristina Mladenovic for a place in the quarterfinals. "I'm working hard and I never thought that I would have such a good ranking and have won two WTA tournaments," Schmiedlova said. "Hopefully I can still go further this week.
"I'm so happy and this season is already like a dream for me."