No.5 seed Zheng Qinwen battled through three contrasting sets to win her first match as a Top 10 player, defeating Magda Linette 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in 1 hour and 57 minutes to reach the third round of the Qatar TotalEnergies Open.

The 21-year-old was in action for the first time since her maiden Grand Slam final at the Australian Open last month, and was facing an opponent who had beaten her in their only previous meeting. Linette had been a 7-6(4), 6-4 victor in the first round of Miami 2022.

Zheng made an imperious start to the match, but her form evaporated in an error-riddled second set. However, the World No.7 was able to rediscover enough accuracy to regain control in the decider, and extended her perfect record in three-setters this year to 5-0. 

Here are the key numbers behind the pendulum swings in each set.

Set 1

Every facet of Zheng's game clicked in the first set. She fired a flurry of down-the-line winners in the opening three games, including one off each wing en route to breaking Linette for 2-1. Overall, she tallied 13 winners to 11 unforced errors in the opening set.

The Chinese player's formidable serve was on song as well. She dropped just one point behind her first serve and four behind her second, and landed four of her seven total aces in the first set -- including one on her first set point to wrap up the opening act with a flourish.

By contrast, Linette only found one winner to five unforced errors, and made little impact on this passage of play.

Set 2

Linette faced two break points at the start of the second set, but managed to arrest Zheng's momentum to wriggle out of that game. That was the start of a collapse in Zheng's form: she contributed 24 unforced errors, an entire set's worth of points, in the second set, to only nine winners. Additionally, her first serve percentage dropped from 57% to 44%.

Though Linette still had a negative ratio of winners to unforced errors -- four to 10 -- the Pole had begun striking the ball with greater authority. She also kept a lid on any potential momentum shifts. At 4-1, Linette missed triple break point for a 5-1 lead, then faced break point against her in the subsequent game. But she found a forehand winner to move out to 5-2, and a game later sealed the set by swatting away a crosscourt backhand.

Set 3

Rock-solid serving was the bedrock of Zheng's third-set recovery. Though her first serve percentage dipped again to 42%, the efficiency of both deliveries was much improved: Zheng lost only three points behind her second serve, and none behind her first.

Zheng tallied eight winners to 13 unforced errors in the decider, but more importantly kept a consistent depth on her groundstrokes that repeatedly drew mistakes from Linette. The World No.53 could only muster two winners against 15 unforced errors in the third set, and was broken in the fifth game and then again in the final game.

Next up for Zheng: In the third round, Zheng will face another 2002-born Grand Slam finalist in Leylah Fernandez, who defeated wild card Paula Badosa 0-6, 6-2, 6-3 in 1 hour and 56 minutes.

Highlights: Fernandez d. Badosa

The 2021 US Open runner-up had not taken a set from Badosa in three previous meetings, and appeared unlikely to change that after getting whitewashed in the opening set. Fernandez's commitment to her net-rushing strategy was undone by poor approach shots that repeatedly set Badosa up for simple passes.

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leylah fernandez

But Fernandez recovered with stellar counterpunching in the second set, then delivered a brilliantly clutch third-set performance. The Canadian saved a pair of break points both at 2-2 and again at 3-3, then sealed the crucial break of the Badosa serve with a laser pass down the line for 5-3. She converted her first match point with her third ace of the day.

Zheng and Fernandez have played each other just once -- a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(3) victory for Fernandez in the second round of Monterrey 2022 en route to her second career title.