BUCHAREST, Romania — Top seed Anastasija Sevastova silenced Romanian supporters at the BRD Bucharest Open after coming back from a set down to take down local hope Ana Bogdan in her opening match.
Sevastova, the top seed, came into the tournament on a career-high ranking of World No.11, just 10 points shy of making her Top 10 debut. Last year, Bucharest served as a springboard for the Latvian, claiming a title here before reaching the semifinals of the US Open and the final at the China Open.
Her opponent Bogdan pushed Sevastova to the brink, and even gave the Latvian a bit of deja bu: back in 2017, Bogdan had stunned a top-seeded Sevastova in the Bucharest quarterfinals in the pair’s only previous meeting.
“The last time I lost against her here, it was quite a short match,” Sevastova told wtatennis.com after the match. “I was expecting a tough match: she’s playing quite good here and she’s a great player on clay. It was a tough first round.”
This time around, Sevastova turned the tables and outlasted Bogdan in a marathon clash, winning 5-7, 7-6(4), 7-5 after three hours and two minutes.
With the vocal Romanian supporters willing her on, Bogdan found her best attacking tennis late in the first set to edge ahead. The pair had been deadlocked on serve until 3-3, before a nervy spate of five consecutive breaks of serve. It was Bogdan who scored the decisive break for 6-5 before taking the set.
The second set alone lasted an hour and 11 minutes - clocking in at 15 minutes longer than the entire Wimbledon final - as Sevastova clawed her way back into the contest. Bogdan did her best to keep pace with the World No.11, turning around a 0-2 deficit and saving seven break points - two of which would have given Sevastova the set at 6-5 - and forcing a tiebreak.
But Centre Court fell silent as Bogdan let slip a 4-2 lead in the decider, and Sevastova roared back to claim the last five points in a row and edge through the tiebreaker.
The silence was deafening in the final set, as Sevastova came back from a break down, 0-2, to reel off four games in a row and lead 4-2. Bogdan showed her grit to break Sevastova as she was serving for the match at 5-4 - but a break straight back sealed the match for the Latvian, who took her third match point to win after three hours and two minutes.
“For sure the crowd helps, it’s always nice to play at home, I think,” Sevastova said afterward. “I think they really motivated her. But I played against her, and against many other Romanian players here for some time, so I know how it is.”
Up next, Sevastova will face another Romanian opponent in the second round as she takes on qualifier Patricia Maria Tig. Tig took down lucky loser Anna Bondar, 6-2, 6-1 earlier in the day to advance.
“I only won one match at Wimbledon, so I had enough time to prepare,” Sevastova joked about the change in surface. “But always, the first match back on clay is a bit different. You just need time to fight through it.”