BUCHAREST, Romania -- Patricia Maria Tig’s first WTA main-draw showing since 2017 keeps on rolling in a big way, as the qualifier notched an upset on home soil with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over No.1 seed and defending champion Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia at the BRD Bucharest Open on Thursday.
The 24-year-old Tig, a former Top 100 player, had not played an event at WTA-level since the Guangzhou Open nearly two years ago.
Affected by injuries which kept her off tour for the entirety of 2018, Tig also gave birth to a daughter in the last year before picking up a racquet again.
The Romanian returned to ITF World Tennis Tour events in April, and picked up her second career Top 25 win at a WTA event after ousting World No.11 Sevastova in one hour and 43 minutes.
"I feel very pleased that I could win this match. I wanted this victory very, very badly. I worked very hard for it and I'm very happy it happened," Tig said.
"It was the perfect opportunity for me because I knew how I had to play to win the match, and I knew if I do the right things, I could probably win. It was something that I wanted so badly."
Unranked Tig, who peaked at World No.83 in 2017, converted four of her eight break points during the encounter, winning over half of the points on Sevastova's second serve. Tig had 31 winners to just 20 unforced errors, while Sevastova had 27 of each.
Tig continued: "I missed tennis and now, I'm trying to enjoy every moment of it. I hope more mothers will play, because women need to see that this is not something impossible to do.
"I don't feel inferior to any player. I know that if I go on court and give my best, I can win the match too."
Tig will face another seeded player in the quarterfinals: No.8 seed Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who dispatched Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure in the second round on Wednesday.
The stage was set at 30-30 in the first game, when both players hit dropshots within a single point before Tig put away a volley to earn break point. Sevastova eventually maneuvered to a service hold, but the combatants continued to deploy dropshots and prioritize placement throughout the opening frame.
"Sevastova is a role model for me because she knows how to anticipate her opponent's next move, and she can put you in a lot of trouble," the Romanian said.
"This is the kind of game I want to play as well from now on."
It was Tig who got the better of Sevastova for the most part during that set, as she won another dropshot battle on break point to go up 3-1. Tig’s wily play continued, and she claimed two more break points at 5-2, which doubled as set points.
Sevastova saved the first with a winning backhand volley, but the Latvian fired a backhand long to cede the opening set to Tig.
The dropshots continued in full force as the combatants continued crafty play in the second set, and once again, it was Tig who claimed the initial advantage after Sevastova double-faulted her serve away at 3-2. But the Latvian finally attained a service break in the very next game with a volley winner, pulling back on serve at 4-3.
Sevastova then became engaged in a long game while serving to stay in the match at 5-4. On the fourth deuce of the game, Tig fell while chasing down a dropshot, and immediately had the trainer tend to her left wrist.
After a lengthy medical timeout, Sevastova calmly won one more point, ending a protracted rally with another dropshot winner to hold for 5-5.
Tig remained unbothered, and after the Romanian held for 6-5, she earned her shot at the upset after a long Sevastova forehand queued up two match points.
Sevastova saved the first with a winning drposhot, but the Latvian sent a forehand volley wide on the second, and Tig moved into the quarterfinals of a WTA event for the first time since 2016.
"I'm really glad that all the people came to support me...they are like a big family," Tig said. "If I reach the final, then I will bring my daughter here.
"The main thing that I want to change from before is to stop playing with pressure, to try to embrace it, and get something positive out of every match. That's my main goal."