Elena Rybakina rallied for a three-set victory over 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva in the third round of the China Open.
Rybakina trailed 6-2, 4-2 against Andreeva -- who was bidding for her first career Top 10 win -- on Wednesday night, but won 10 of the last 11 games to eventually turn the match around, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Rybakina did not have a break point in Andreeva's first seven service games of the match, but the eighth game of the second set was a spark for the 2022 Wimbledon champion. A ripped backhand winner at 30-30 gave Rybakina an opening, which she duly converted when Andreeva hit a backhand in the net on the fifth ball of the next rally.
"Today, I had a tough opponent, very young, she's fighting and running a lot, and she has a good ball also, so I didn't start really well," Rybakina said afterwards. "In the second, I managed to turn it around, and in the third, I think it was a bit better serve and I was going for the ball."
Befuddled some by Andreeva's anticipation and court craft over the first half of the match, Rybakina's power game eventually found its stride by the end of 1 hour and 49 minutes. She more than doubled Andreeva's winner total, 37 to 15, and also hit 10 aces.
"I think it was a lack of energy," Rybakina said. "It was the same in the previous matches, I was starting slow, but she was really fighting a lot. She has good shots and it wasn't easy at all. For me, it's all about the energy, the footwork, pushing with the legs, and the same with my serve.
"It's unusual to play someone young like this. Of course, it's not easy ... She's a great player, and if she continues like this, it's going to be really, really tough, and I think we're going to have more battles in the future."
She also ultimately converted four of five break points in the match, as she broke the qualifier twice more in the third set and saved both break points she faced -- one serving at 4-0 and the other at 5-1.
Rybakina had a match point for a bagel that Andreeva saved, later sealing the win on her third opportunity.
Rybakina awaits the winner of the third-round match between World No.1 Aryna Sabalenka and Italy's Jasmine Paolini, which will be played Thursday.