JURMALA, Latvia - Anhelina Kalinina produced a blistering display to fight back and knock No.3 seed Katerina Siniakova out of the Baltic Open, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours 21 minutes.
In the first meeting between the pair since their junior days, when Siniakova had won 6-2, 6-0 en route to the 2012 Osaka Grade A title, the Czech again got off to a lightning-fast start - but a rain delay stopped her in her tracks, allowing her 22-year-old opponent to regroup overnight. Kalinina made the most of the delay and came out firing on Tuesday, winning nine of the subsequent 10 games.
Initially, though, Siniakova was quick to assert her authority. Showcasing impressive speed around the court and delightful touch on the dropshot and at net, the Nurnberg semifinalist yanked her opponent around the court, continually finding ways to place the ball in awkward positions for the somewhat more rigid Kalinina. As Siniakova sealed a 5-1 lead, she seemed to be peaking, conjuring up a brilliant dropshot-lob volley combination and a brace of booming backhands to break the Ukrainian for a second time.
But despite getting comprehensively outmanoeuvred over the first six games, Kalinina managed to find another gear to make life rather tougher for her seeded rival. In particular, the WTA World No.139 demonstrated an ability to find some impossibly acute angles on the backhand - a number of which aided her in gradually clawing her way back into the set. Having regained both breaks, the stage was set for a dramatic marathon tussle in the 10th game: Kalinina would save some of her finest tennis to save five set points - but was unable to take three game points to level for 5-5, and it was the 2018 Roland Garros and Wimbledon doubles champion who finally got over the line at the sixth attempt by putting away a smash.
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Kalinina carried her form over into the second set in style, varying pace and depth during rallies and picking her moments to attack wisely. Heavy hitting on the backhand return garnered her the first break of the set for 3-1.
Having lost eight out of a stretch of 10 games, though, it was Siniakova's turn to respond to the threat by finding another level. Consecutive aces were a statement of intent that the WTA World No.41 made good on as she nailed a forehand pass at full stretch en route to breaking back. But with Siniakova zoning, conjuring up reflex winners at will to take a 4-3 lead, rain caused a fateful overnight display.
When the players re-emerged for play on Tuesday, it was the Ukrainian who spent the entirity in the driving seat. There was little evidence of the brilliance that Siniakova had shown the previous evening as it was the power of her opponent that quickly took over.
If the Czech hoped that she might polish off the second set quickly, she was proven sadly mistaken as Kalinina raced to level before maintaining the momentum into a one-sided decider that lasted only 37 minutes.
The in-form Patricia Maria Tig is up next for Kalinina.