ZHUHAI, China - No.11 seed Karolina Muchova won a dramatic debut match at the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai in the Camellia Group, as she edged American Alison Riske, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.
The last woman to qualify for and arrive in Zhuhai after reaching the semifinals at last week's VTB Kremlin Cup, Muchova recovered from a slow start in her round-robin opener, and came from a break down twice to eliminate the American from the competition in a shade under two hours.
Broken in the first game of the final set, Muchova also came from 3-1 down in the decider to keep her hopes of qualifying for the semifinals alive.
"The last few days, I was mostly traveling here. So, I came late, I didn't come very prepared as I would wish I am, but it's how it is and I just try to make the best of it," Muchova said after the match.
"I won today a very, very tough match. I was struggling from the start, but happy with the win.
"I feel very good, and it was physically very tough...and we just tried to make everything like that I will feel good or best as possible tomorrow for another match."
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The pair of Wimbledon quarterfinalists split a pair of identical sets, with Riske taking the opener by virtue of winning five straight games.
Undaunted after failing to convert two break points in the third game of the first set, Riske held to love and broke at her first opportunity, never trailing again in the set.
Nonetheless, Muchova flipped the second set around in commanding fashion and sprinted out to a 5-0 lead in the second set, losing just three points over the course of the first four games.
That set the stage for a winner-take-all final set, in which Riske took the lead early, and held from 0-40 down in the fourth game to solidify her 3-1 lead.
Muchova nonetheless moved into the lead with a strong run of her own, as she won 12 of the next 13 points over the course of three sraight games to take her first lead of the set, and later saved a pivotal break point at 4-4.
To seal the win in one hour and 58 minutes, the Czech denied Riske two chances to send the match to a decisive tiebreak, and earned her victory on her first match point.
The World No.36 will next face No.2 seed Sofia Kenin in the deciding match in the group, with the winner of their match advancing out to the knockout rounds.
"She is a good player, so I will have to play very good and consistent tomorrow," Muchova added. "I don't think I should change any specific thing, I'll just play my game."