LUXEMBOURG - World No.99 Anna Blinkova earned sweet revenge against Tatjana Maria in her debut at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, edging past the German in straight sets.
The pair first met last week at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz where Blinkova, a qualifier, led by a set and a break before Maria made her comeback, winning 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
This time, Blinkova didn’t let the match slip through her fingers, recovering from a break down in the second set to win 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 21 minutes.
The victory is just her ninth WTA main draw win of her career, but Blinkova played like a veteran throughout the topsy-turvy encounter. She reeled off eight points in a row to start the first set with a break to love, and she kept her lead despite Maria’s efforts to stay ahead 3-1.
Her aggressive, all-court game kept Maria contained - the German recorded just one winner in the first set to Blinkova’s 10 - and she bracketed the set with her third break to take the opener 6-2.
But Blinkova might have felt a bit of deja vu as Maria soared ahead to a break for 1-0, at the start of the second, threatening another comeback like last week in Linz. Maria sliced her way to a lead, regaining her rhythm to lead for much of the set as Blinkova struggled.
The 20-year-old Russian got back on track with a break back at 4-4, rushing the net time and again to keep Maria on the back foot. Maria was a point away from forcing a tiebreak at 6-5, but Blinkova recovered in style to break a second time and seal her spot in the second round.
Blinkova recorded an impressive 25 winners against’s Maria’s 10 across both sets, offsetting her 26 unforced errors and Maria’s 12. But Blinkova played best during the most important points, and was able to convert all five of the break chances she created, compared to just two out of three for Maria.
Blinkova could face an even bigger challenge next: she’ll take on the winner between top seed Julia Goerges or Viktoria Kuzmova in the second round.
More to follow...