Anett Kontaveit is through to round two of the WTA500 Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open, after coming from a set down to defeat Shuai Zhang of China 4:6, 7:6 (7), 6:4.
Kontaveit came into the tournament having gone out of the Australian Open in round two, though recently saw her WTA ranking improve one place, to 18th.
She was not feeling 100 percent ahead of the encounter at the Zayed Sports City International Tennis Centre, saying post-match that: "It was a very difficult game. I didn't feel at my best, but I'm very happy that I somehow managed to fight it in my favor and gave as much as I could at that moment," portal Delfi reports.
"I'm very happy to be able to play one more match. Every win gives me a little more confidence," Kontaveit added.
Kontaveit is seeded seventh in the tournament and started the match impressively, quickly going 3:0 up, after which the progress of the match altered.
The Estonian started having difficulty with her serve and soon Zhang, ranked 23rd in the world, was level at 3:3.
Kontaveit then took a medical break after Zhang took the next game, breaking the Estonian's serve in the process.
After that break, while Shuai won on her serve again, so too did Kontaveit on the next game – though it was not enough to avoid losing 6:4 in set one.
The second set was more evenly matched with both players winning their service games for the first five, after which Kontaveit broke Shuai's serve and then held her own, to go 4:2 up. Kontaveit broke again, but the Chinese player was not done for, and took the next two, lengthy games.
After rescuing no fewer than six set points, the score in games stood at 6:6 taking it to a tie-break, which Kontaveit wrapped up quickly, 7:4.
The Estonian had found her form by that time and after breaking Zhang early on in the decider, she went on to take the set 6:4, and with it the match.
Kontaveit will face either Shelby Rogers (U.S., 46th in the world) or Canadian Leylah Fernandez (39th in the world) in round two, on Wednesday.
"While both players have come via qualification, they are very good players. It will certainly be a tough match," Kontaveit said ahead of the encounter.
"I will keep an eye on how their match goes tomorrow (Tuesday-ed.), but right now the most important thing is for me to recover from this match," she went on.
The head-to-head is one apiece between Kontaveit and Rogers; Kontaveit has never played Fernandez competitively.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Henrik Laever, Janno Joala