WUHAN, China - Down a set and facing match point, Katerina Siniakova completed a spectacular comeback at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, taking down the defending champion and No.4 seed Caroline Garcia in a three-hour battle.
A year ago, the Frenchwoman became the first player to win Wuhan and Beijing back-to-back, a run that propelled her into the WTA’s Top 10 and secured her WTA Finals singles debut.
But now Garcia was faced with the daunting task of defending all of those points - with the goal of booking a second trip to Singapore. She fell at the first hurdle in Wuhan against the motivated qualifier Siniakova, who won 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4).
“It was such a long battle, I’m very happy that I won,” Siniakova said in a post-match interview. “[Garcia and I] have already played a few times and every time it’s three sets. Every time I played her it was really long and tough match, so I was expecting a tough one.
“Even this was really tough. I was needing to come back, there were so many ups and downs - I just tried to fight and I’m so happy that I did.”
Garcia started out in full control after taking the first set in comfortable fashion - Siniakova broke in the first game to establish a 2-0 lead, but from there it was all Garcia. The Frenchwoman reeled off five games in a row to make it 5-2, breaking Siniakova twice - but needing seven break points to do so as Siniakova put up a fierce battle both times.
Siniakova did well to shake off the disappointment from the first set, keeping Garcia under pressure with her tricky tennis. She created break chances at 1-1, and finally converted at 4-2 to take the lead. But Garcia fought her way back into it, winning three games on the bounce to serve for the match at 5-4.
That’s when things started going sideways for Garcia, whose ball toss suddenly abandoned her causing double faults to creep in. Siniakova pounced on her opponent’s diminished serve, saving match point and reeling off the next two games to start her turnaround. Garcia sent them into a tiebreak, but it was the Czech qualifier who had all the momentum and edged through to bring up a deciding set.
The rollercoaster third set featured eight breaks of serve as both players wrestled for the lead. Siniakova lead by a break three times during the set, but the No.4 seed didn’t stay down and - much like Siniakova did to her in the second set - Garcia broke the Czech as she served for the match to send them into another tiebreak. In the end it was Siniakova who managed to close it out, claiming the win after a marathon three hours and four minutes.
“I didn’t even know that this is my 23rd three-set match this year,” Siniakova said. “Every match I just fight and try to win. It’s a big number, but I think it means that I have good physical preparation so I can fight from beginning to the end. If it’s three sets, I just keep working.”
Through to the third round here for the first time, Siniakova will face another big test in Garbiñe Muguruza - who routed qualifier Viktorija Golubic 6-0, 6-1 earlier in the day.
“Of course, Muguruza is a tough opponent, but in these tournaments I think everyone is really tough,” Siniakova said. “But I had a few good matches here from qualies and main draw, so I’ll really try to focus on myself and try to show my best tennis.”