Aryna Sabalenka pulled off a dramatic comeback from a double break down in the third set against qualifier Coco Gauff in the second round of the J&T Banka Ostrava Open, avenging a marathon loss two months ago to pull through 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(2) in two hours and 13 minutes.
At the same stage of Lexington in August, Gauff had triumphed 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4 in a two-hour, 48-minute epic that remains the longest match of the teenager's professional career to date - and for much of this rematch she seemed likely to reprise it.
But Sabalenka proved the stronger player towards the end of the match in October, storming back from 2-5 down in the decider and ultimately dictating the final-set tiebreak, tallying 30 winners to 44 unforced errors overall and taking advantage of Gauff's serve suddenly shaking in the closing stages.
"I would say today was a really good level compared to last time," said Sabalenka afterwards. "After the last match I knew there were going to be long rallies and short balls, and that I have to step in every time on court, stay aggressive and don't be afraid to come into net.
"She's a great player, she's so young and she's moving really really well. It's long rallies all the time and it's not easy to make a winner or find a way of finishing the point against her. I mean, she's great. She's 16 and she's playing on this level - I would like to have been on this level when I was 16!"
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