THE BRONX, NY, USA – Andrea Petkovic secured her first main draw victory on Tour since Eastbourne in June thanks to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No.4 seed Zhang Shuai. at the NYJTL Bronx Open.
Four comfortable holds at the start of the match suggested a tight encounter but the big-hitting German powered to the opening set before continuing her dominance by powering clear in the second. She survived a blip and fought through an 84-minute match to set up a second-round clash with either Camila Giorgi or Margarita Gasparyan.
The WTA World No.89 had won both her previous encounters against the Chinese, but after a challenging period of form started as a significant underdog against a player more than 50 places higher in the ranking than her.
Some fine early serving from the 31-year-old quickly saw her regain confidence in her powerful groundstrokes and when Zhang served a double fault in the fifth game she pounced with two powerful and accurate returns that saw her make the breakthrough.
Although Zhang was quick to level, her delivery was now being regularly punished by Petkovic, who was stepping in and crushing her returns, particularly when given a look at a second serve. As such, the first set was quickly wrapped up by the underdog, who fired an ace to seal it.
The momentum continued to favor Petkovic early in the second set as she broke immediately, in part thanks to some loose play from her opponent, then proceeded to move 3-0 clear thanks to another break, which was secured by a forehand crushed down the line from an acute angle.
A landslide success seemed likely at this juncture, but Zhang showed resilience to fight back and win four games in succession before her opponent’s groundstrokes, and the forehand in particular, started to take over again.
There were no signs of a player lacking in confidence after a long winless streak as Petkovic responded by breaking to get within a service hold of the win, which she took emphatically at the first opportunity.
She will now have the chance to win back-to-back matches for the first time since Roland Garros.