Kaia Kanepi won her round one encounter in the WTA 250 Summer Set 1 tournament in Melbourne, Australia, defeating Jaqueline Adina Cristiani (Romania) in three hard-fought sets, 6.7 (2:7), 7:6 (9:7), 6:2.
The pair have met three times now, with the Estonian prevailing each time, though she had to work for it in the latest game, which lasted almost two-and-a-half hours on the hard courts in Melbourne.
Kanepi, 36, ranked 73rd, found herself 4:1 down, soon pulling back to 4:4 in set one. A tie-break situation followed later, which the Romanian, 23 and ranked two places ahead of Kanepi by the WTA, dominated, quickly racing to 6:0 and winning 7:2.
Set two saw almost a reverse of the opening set – Kanepi took an early lead at 3:1 and then 5:2, but then faded and was 4:6 down at one point, before the set went to a tie-break again, this time won by the Estonian, 9:7.
Kanepi took control over the third set, however, winning the first two games and then going on to the brink of victory at 5:1 and with two match points in hand. While Cristian fended these off and took the game, Kanepi wrapped things up in the very next game.
Kanepi will face either Tereza Martincova (Czech Republic, WTA 48th) or Ana Konjuh (Serbia, 67th), in the next round. Martincova and Konjuh are due to play Tuesday.
The Melbourne Summer Sets replaced the coronavirus-canceled Brisbane International tournament and are a warmer for the Australian Open later this month.
Editor: Andrew Whyte