LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg -- In a closely contested battle between former champions, reigning titleholder and No.2 seed Julia Goerges of Germany overcame 2015 titlist Misaki Doi of Japan, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3, in the first round of the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open on Wednesday.
Goerges had won their sole previous meeting in straight sets, which came at Seoul in 2013. The German had to fight back from a set down this time around, but ended up claiming the victory after two hours and 14 minutes of play.
"I’m very happy and proud of the way I kept on playing," Goerges said after coming back from her one-set deficit. "I tried to put all the pressure on her, serving big, and overall, I’m very happy with the whole performance."
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World No.26 Goerges had a whopping 57 winners in the match, including 21 aces, to just 32 unforced errors. 74th-ranked Doi, however, saved 17 of the 24 break points she faced in the clash, which helped her stay in the match deep into a third set.
Goerges will now face Sorana Cirstea of Romania in the second round, after Cirstea defeated Pauline Parmentier of France in straight sets in the first round. Goerges and Cirstea have split their four previous meetings.
"It’s another tough challenge, [Cirstea] hits the ball pretty big," said Goerges. "I just practiced with her here the other day. I’m expecting a tough match, another challenge, but I’m looking forward to it."
— WTA (@WTA) October 16, 2019
Goerges had opportunities to take early leads in the opening set, holding three break points combined in Doi’s first two service games. However, Doi escaped those chances, then executed a game full of solid service returns to clinch the first break of the clash and lead 3-1.
The Japanese player consolidated for 4-1, but Goerges fired a forehand return winner on break point two games later to pull back on serve at 4-3. Goerges again had multiple break points on the Doi serve at 5-5, but blasted forehand miscues on each of those three occasions, and Doi shot a strong serve to close out a hold for 6-5.
Doi was rewarded for her grit on the big points in the next game, when she broke for the set after Goerges hit a rally backhand into the net on the second set point. Goerges had 23 winners to just 13 unforced errors in the opening frame, but she was 1-for-7 on break points, while Doi converted two of her three break points to swipe the one-set lead.
"I don’t think it was a bad beginning, I just didn’t take my opportunities," said Goerges. "In the important moments, I didn’t play the rallies very well. I think I was impatient, because I played very good until I had the chance to break her, but I didn’t really take it away from her in the first set."
— WTA (@WTA) October 16, 2019
Goerges, though, rebounded in the second set. The German saw four more break points fall by the wayside at 1-1, but converted her fifth break point of that game with a sturdy, error-forcing return to take the early lead. Goerges cruised through her next two service games, picking up an additional break between them, to zip to a 5-1 lead.
More powerful play by the German in the next game led to a love break, which earned her the set to level the match. Goerges again had substantially more winners than errors in the second set (12 to three), but despite breaking Doi three times, she still only went 3-for-7 on break points. However, in this set, Doi had just a single break point, which she could not convert.
In the decider, Goerges once again had early chances, but failed to convert any of three break points as Doi held for 1-1. Doi then broke for 2-1 after Goerges double faulted on the Japanese player’s sixth break point of that game. However, the break points continued to pile up, as the German struck back immediately, firing a forehand winner on her third break point of the following game to reach 2-2.
The duo exchanged breaks once more before Goerges used aggressive play from all sections of the court to reach triple break point at 4-3. The German converted the first of those with a return winner to move ahead 5-3 and serve for the match. Back-to-back aces gave Goerges triple match point, and she took the win on her second chance after a long return by Doi.