BEIJING, China - Maria Sharapova exacted her revenge on her US Open conqueror Anastasija Sevastova with a thrilling, three-set epic win in their China Open first-round rematch.
In her first match back since her fourth-round defeat in Flushing Meadows, Sharapova leveled the score in commanding fashion and scoring a 7-6(3), 5-7, 7-6(7) victory at the National Tennis Stadium in Beijing.
The first set set the tone for the three-hour and eight-minute battle as Sharapova found herself having to fight back from a break down three times. No.16 seed Sevastova did well to employ the same tricky, varied game with clean hitting that troubled Sharapova before, but the Russian took the ball early and attacked her vulnerable second serve before pulling away in the tiebreaker.
Sevastova stayed much more solid in the second set as Sharapova’s level seemed to dip and her serves let her down. The unforced errors flew off Sharapova’s racquet as Sevastova, who trailed for a break for most of the set, turned things around and sent the match the distance.
The third set saw Sharapova once again get off to a fast start, earning the early break then building up a 5-2. But the match - and the tenacious Sevastova - had one more twist left in it.
Sevastova reeled off four games in a row - dodging two match points, with the help of one of Sharapova’s 10 double faults - to turn it around and finally get her first lead of the set. Sharapova held firm to force a final tiebreaker, where things once again got tricky. She saved a match point of her own to finally close out the match after a marathon three hours and eight minutes.
In the second round, Sharapova will take on the winner between qualifier Jennifer Brady and Ekaterina Makarova. Previously, Sharapova has made it to at least the semifinals at the China Open in four of her six previous appearances - capping it off with a run to the title in 2014, the last time she played the event.
More to follow...