Sara Errani had lost to this Top 5 player in all six of their previous encounters, but it was seventh time lucky for the Italian at the China Open - who did she finally beat?
WTA Staff

BEIJING, China - Sara Errani had lost to Petra Kvitova in all six of their previous meetings, but it was seventh time lucky for the Italian as they met in the first round of the China Open on Sunday.

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Though the last three had gone to three sets, Kvitova came into this meeting with a perfect 6-0 record against Errani - and given Kvitova was a returning finalist in Beijing, the odds seemed stacked.

But from the beginning Errani was on her game in every way, sending just about everything Kvitova sent at her back and grinding out points time and time again, jumping out to an early 3-1 lead and, after letting go of the break, eventually closing out the opening frame after exactly an hour, 7-5.

After four straight breaks then four straight holds to start the second set, Errani pounced one last time, breaking at love to go up 5-4 then serving out a 7-5, 6-4 victory against the No.2-seeded Czech.

"I had never beaten her, and she's a really good player, so I'm happy I could finally win in a big tournament like this one," Errani said. "It was just a few points that made the difference. I just tried to stay there every point and stay solid without too many mistakes - that's my game, anyway."

The match numbers told the story. Kvitova was the aggressor, hitting 42 winners to 49 unforced errors, while Errani was just too solid, finishing with a +1 differential (15 winners to 14 unforced errors).

And a stat that could haunt Kvitova? The Czech converted just four of her 17 break point chances.

Kvitova met the press afterwards and explained why the loss was doubly disappointing.

"Of course the loss is always disappointing. I really wanted to win and qualify for Singapore here. But I just wasn't really able to," the World No.4 said. "It was the kind of game where I had to really be ready physically and mentally, and I just wasn't today. I couldn't really serve in the second set, either.

"I didn't really help with anything, and she was going for her chances - it was just difficult."

It wasn't just Errani's first win in seven tries against Kvitova, it was also just her third win in 40 tries against Top 5 players - her previous two wins over Top 5 players came against a No.4-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska (at the French Open in 2013) and a No.2-ranked Li Na (at Rome in 2014).

Next up for Errani is Caroline Garcia, who beat Chinese No.1 Zheng Saisai in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2.

Garcia leads Errani in their head-to-head, 2-1, though Errani did win their most recent meeting.