ROME, Italy - Unseeded Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska navigated a titanic three-set thriller with Italian wildcard Camila Giorgi, 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4 to reach the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.
"How else can I feel after a three hour match but tired?" Yastremska said after the match. "Still, it's a win. Maybe not the best win, but it's a win!"
The 20-year-old, who recently announced her split with coach Sascha Bajin, nearly lost the plot from match point up, only to ultimately survive after two hours and 33 minutes on Court Centrale.
"I felt so bad during the match. My game was ok, and I really felt my shots, but it was weird. I had so many double faults, more than I've ever had in my life. I hit three double faults in a row, and something was going on that was just weird. My shoe broke, and I had a match point in the second set like in Palermo, but lost the tie-break.
"I had good preparation. After America, I took two days off to recover my knee and foot. I had three days to practice, which was really nice, and had more great practices here. I felt good in my shots, but there was something about the situation that felt unpredictable and unexpected. I would play well for a few games and then hit three double faults and missed a couple returns. I guess everyone had days like these."
Giorgi and Yastremska last played on the tour's resumption at the 31st Palermo Ladies Open, where the Italian saved match points to overcome the Ukrainian youngster in three thrilling sets.
Determined to avenge that defeat, the Adelaide International runner-up bolted ahead 5-2 in the battle of big-hitters, and shook off a late surge to hold off Giorgi after a 56 minute set with the help of 11 winners to her rival's five.
"I felt right and if I had to play again tomorrow, I'd be ready to go because I do really feel good physically."
The duo began the second with an exchange of breaks and in the first marathon game of the set, Giorgi saved three break points - one with a searing forehand up the line - to keep things on level terms. Two games later she turned the tables on the unseeded Ukrainian, who threw in a double fault as the Italian nabbed a break of her own.
Yastremska responded in inimitable fashion, saving set point with a powerful return and put down a love service hold to move within four points of victory.
Giorgi battled well from the brink, saving a match point and forcing a tie-break behind a barrage of big serves.
Deadlocked at the first change of ends, the Italian wildcard came to life, surging to three more set points as Yastremska erred off the forehand and serve. On her fourth opportunity, Giorgi blasted a deep forehand to edge into a deciding set.
Undaunted by the disappointment of missing out on a two-set win, Yastremska was first to break in the final set, and held for 3-1 as Giorgi missed two crucial forehands.
Giorgi soon leveled and won a string of 10 straight points on serve, but Yastremska kept pressing, digging out of a 30-0 hold to find herself serving for the match once more.
Solid serving turned break point into a second match point, which the Ukrainian took at last behind a forehand winner.
Indeed, Yastremska hit more winners (25 to 15) and fewer errors (40 to 36), and converted seven of 19 break point opportunities - while Giorgi managed just four of eight. Both struggled on serve with 14 double faults each, but the 20-year-old finished the match with a better first serve percentage, 54% to 48%.
Amanda Anisimova awaits in the second round after the American survived No.16 seed Donna Vekic in a pair of tie-breaks earlier in the afternoon.
"To be honest, that's going to be a good match. We played back when we were juniors in Brazil. It was after I won my first ITF Pro Circuit title at 15 years old, and I was feeling so tired, playing her in a final. She was really good then, so we will see!"
The two played once as juniors, with Anisimova coming out on top of that clay court clash all the way back in 2016.