PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Sara Sorribes Tormo trailed No.7 seed Barbora Strycova 0-5 in the opening set, but she completed an impressive comeback to take down the home favorite and move into the second round at the Prague Open.
Sorribes Tormo needed 85 minutes to claim the opening set alone, saving two set points and edging through in a tiebreak before cruising in the second set to win, 7-6(3), 6-1.
“I knew before I started that it was going to be a tough match, so I just tried to keep playing every ball and be focused every single point,” Sorribes Tormo told press via video chat. “I just needed to keep fighting, because I knew she was a very good player and she’s going to do very good things. So I just tried to stay there and play my best tennis and I think that was the key.
“I had to fight a lot. I’m happy, and I think that from 5-0 I was just playing better and better.”
Despite the one-sided score in the first five games of the match, Sorribes Tormo did well to keep Strycova under pressure and created plenty of chances. But Strycova showed the sharp tennis and net game that made her the current World No.2 in doubles, closing out Sorribes Tormo each time to open up a five game lead.
Sorribes Tormo finally broke through to hold serve and get on the scoreboard, and with her back against the wall began to mount her improbable comeback, reeling off four games in a row to narrow the gap to 4-5. Strycova held two set points as she served to finally put Sorribes Tormo away - but the Spaniard refused to wilt away as she took them into a tiebreaker.
She was in control against the Czech as she ran out to her own 5-0 lead in the tiebreaker, keeping Strycova under pressure with her variety of slices. Sorribes Tormo kept the No.7 seed at bay to seal the opening set 7-6(3) after an hour and 25-minute battle.
"I've had long sets before, because I used to play very long matches. But nothing like this before,” Sorribes Tormo said. The Spaniard featured in two of last year’s Top 20 longest matches, each clocking in at over three hours.
But she got it done in two hours and two sets in Prague, breaking Strycova twice more en route to a 7-6(3), 6-1 victory. She moves into the second round for the first time following the tour’s resumption after bowing out in her opening match at the Palermo Ladies Open last week.
Sorribes Tormo had struggled to kick off her 2020 season and has yet to record back-to-back main draw wins, but she turned heads with a major upset of former World No.1 Naomi Osaka in Fed Cup qualifiers against Japan back in February. However, she credits her mental resilience to the time spent away from the courts during the tour’s five-month break.
In photos: Prague 2020: Story of the tournament
“I think we are all more mentally fresh,” she said. “We all saw different things from life, you know. What happened is something totally different from what we’re used to, and I think it was good in this way because we saw that life is not only tennis. I think everyone is coming back more fresh and more relaxed.”
Sorribes Tormo awaits the winner between Laura Siegemund and Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif.