NURNBERG, Germany - Yulia Putintseva came back from a set down and needed two days to complete the upset over Sloane Stephens at the Nurnberger Versicherungscup.
Locked into a tight battle at a set apiece and tied 3-3 in the third, Stephens and Putintseva’s first round match was suspended due to darkness on Tuesday. Coming back the next day, it was the Kazakh who eventually triumphed, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(3).
— WTA (@WTA) May 22, 2018
The pair split seven breaks of serve between the two in a back-and-forth opening set which saw Stephens and Putintseva struggle to find their rhythm in the heavy conditions of Nurnberg. Stephens finally broke through late in the set to serve for it at 5-4, but Putintseva leveled in the next game. She was two points from the set, but Stephens grabbed the seventh break to dodge a tiebreak and edge through to take the set.
The second set unfolded much like the first - seven breaks of serve once again made the difference - but this time it was Putintseva who bossed proceedings. An early hold put her in a good spot for the five straight breaks of serve that followed, and she grabbed the edge for a 5-2 lead. Stephens threatened a comeback, breaking back at 5-4 to get them back on serve, but Putintseva slammed the door shut in the next game.
— WTA (@WTA) May 23, 2018
They traded breaks to start the third set as the light dwindled in Nurnberg, before the match was finally suspended due to darkness with players level at 3-3. Upon resumption the next day, another pair of breaks send them into a tiebreak, Putintseva eventually prevailing 7-3.
The win extends Putintseva’s streak of success in Nurnberg; she’s never lost a first-round match in any of her four appearances, and has reached the quarterfinals twice. It’s exactly what she needs in 2018, as she’s suffered first and second round losses in nine of the 11 tournaments she’s played so far this season.
She’ll have to bounce back quickly for her second-round match, as she’s set to take on Alison Riske later today. Riske defeated qualifier Mandy Minella on Monday in straight sets, 6-1, 7-6(2).