ZHUHAI, China– Top seed Daria Kasatkina survived a scare on Tuesday to claim victory over crowd favorite Wang Qiang in a thrilling contest at the WTA Elite Trophy in China, taking the match 6-1, 2-6, 7-5.
The 21-year-old Russian looked totally dominant in the early stages in Zhuhai, wrapping up the first set against the Chinese eleventh seed in just 26 minutes.
But the vocal supporters at the Hengqin International Tennis Center were given something to cheer about when Wang, 26, broke all four of Kasatkina’s service games to claim the second set.
The deciding set saw some breathtaking points and rallies as each player tried to break the deadlock, but nerves appeared to take hold as both failed to win almost any of their service games.
Finally, after almost two hours on court, it was Kasatkina who held on to her serve at the crucial time to take the third and final set 7-5.
Asked what was going through her mind towards the end of the tie, Kasatkina told reporters: “The main goal was not to cramp at all.”
“I was fighting against myself, against my body. And in the end I’m happy I was able to do this and went through.”
Wang praised her opponent, singling out her defensive tactics and telling journalists: “Definitely she is a very strong competitor.”
Tuesday night’s clash was their first round robin match, with both yet to play American Madison Keys, ranked 16th in the world.
Kasatkina, who plays Keys on Wednesday afternoon, criticized the timetable.
“Of course I’m not happy with the schedule — it sucks completely!” she said.
“For example, some players are starting to play on Thursday, and I play two matches in a row after finishing my first match at 10 pm, and I play the next day. This is tough.