RABAT, Morocco -- No.2 seed Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei got through a tough test in the opening round of the Grand Prix De SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem on Tuesday, outlasting Daria Gavrilova of Australia, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
The World No.24, who reached the semifinals of the clay-court event in her tournament debut last year, needed an hour and 42 minutes to dispatch former Top 20 player Gavrilova. In the process, Hsieh claimed her first win over the Australian in their third meeting.
Second-seeded Hsieh won 74 percent of points when she got her first serve into play, and converted six of her nine break points, garnering three service breaks in both the first and last sets. Gavrilova picked up her play in the middle set but was undone by seven double faults during the clash.
Hsieh will now face either Lara Arruabarrena of Spain or former World No.2 Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the second round.
Hsieh had it all her way in the opening frame, constantly pressuring Gavrilova in the Australian’s service games. Gavrilova was able to wriggle her way out of a 0-30 jam in her first chance at the line to hold for 1-1, but Hsieh would take command two games later, as a perfect lob set up a forehand winner to break for a 3-1 lead.
A winning drop volley gave Hsieh triple break point for a 5-1 advantage, and the player from Chinese Taipei took that lead after Gavrilova misfired on a forehand. Hsieh notched the one-set lead in style, holding at love with an error-forcing crosscourt forehand on set point.
But the Australian turned the tables in the second set, cutting down the unforced errors, particularly from her forehand side. Gavrilova found a purple patch mid-set, holding for 3-2 after starting that game with two consecutive double faults, and then earning her first break of the match with aggressive hitting to lead 4-2.
Serving for the set at 5-3, Gavrilova staved off a break point with a winning backhand dropshot, then blasted a forehand winner to bring up set point. After a wide return by Hsieh, the Australian found herself level with the second seed at one set apiece.
The decider was well and truly up for grabs as both players went for broke on return, leading to four consecutive breaks of serve. Hsieh, however, finally stopped that streak, holding for 3-2 with a stirring backhand down the line.
From there, the player from Chinese Taipei took command, as Hsieh was regularly the last woman standing at the end of rallies. Hsieh forced an error with a backhand at the end of a long point to break for 4-2, and then held for 5-2 by ending an all-court affair with a winning drop shot.
Serving to stay in the match at 5-2, Gavrilova quickly fell behind 0-30, then hit her seventh double fault to queue up double match point for her opponent. Hsieh needed just the single opportunity, as the No.2 seed forced an error wide from her Australian opponent to win a fifth straight game to finish the job.
More to follow....