TIANJIN, China -- The Chinese fans at the Tianjin Open got to see one of their own claim a big win, as Zhu Lin upset two-time Wimbledon champion and No.2 seed Petra Kvitova in the first round on Wednesday, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
In the first meeting between the two players, the unseeded Zhu shrugged off a second-set turnaround and an attempted final-set comeback by the Czech star to seize the first Top 20 victory of her career in two hours and 15 minutes.
"Obviously it is an amazing match and it is the biggest win of my career, I am just so happy," said Zhu in her post-match press. "I played so relaxed today. In the second set I was serving for the match, but she played great to win this, and then I came back in the third set and I played like my first set, and I think I did it!"
"I just played my match," Zhu continued. "I didn't think too much about the win, I just enjoyed the match."
A lackluster start by Kvitova precluded her from taking advantage of Zhu’s serve in the early going, and her usually fearsome left-handed serves and forehands were not rattling the Chinese player. Kvitova could only get 48 percent of her first serves in play during the entire match.
After eight consecutive service holds, Zhu got the first break of the match at 4-4 when Kvitova hit an unforced error into the net. Kvitova claimed her first break point of the match in the very next game, but Zhu dodged it when an errant backhand by the second seed went wide.
A strong Zhu forehand forced an error from Kvitova to give China’s sixth-ranked player a one-set lead. Zhu only faced one break point in the set, which she saved, and matched the big-serving Kvitova's three aces.
A combination of well-placed serving and solid retrieving allowed Zhu to maintain the momentum at the start of the second set. She clinched the first break of the set to lead 2-1, after Kvitova lost the game with two early double faults and a forehand error down break point.
The Chinese player served for the match at 5-4, but, suddenly, her nerves kicked in. Down break point, Zhu hit a tentative overhead right at Kvitova, which the Czech blocked back into the court, just inside the baseline, to reach 5-5.
After an easy hold, sealed by one of her eight aces, Kvitova then took charge in Zhu's next service game, hitting a service return winner off the forehand to bring up break point, and then a backhand service winner to grab the second set. Kvitova won the final four games of the set, and cheered with glee.
But any confidence that comeback could have provided quickly dissipated, when a rough Kvitova service game at 1-1, including two double faults, gave Zhu first blood in the decider. Another double fault down break point in Kvitova's next service game gave Zhu a 4-1 lead, and victory was in sight for the World No.113.
Serving for the match at 5-2, though, Zhu failed to close once more, and she was broken when Kvitova hit a winner crosscourt. But Zhu had two match points on Kvitova's serve at 5-3, and though she did not convert there, strong hitting gave Zhu the match in the very next game, claiming victory after Kvitova hit a service return long.
Zhu will play Hsieh Su-Wei in the second round, after the Taiwanese No.1 dispatched Chinese qualifier Lu Jing-Jing, 6-2, 6-2, earlier on Wednesday.