16th seed Elena Vesnina had a shaky start to the Wuhan Open as she just got past the dangerous home favorite Duan Yingying, who relied on a wildcard into her home tournament for a place in the main draw. The Russian originally looked flawless before her inconsistency kicked in as she almost did not close out the first set. Nonetheless, she then recovered from a huge deficit in the second to claim the win after an hour and 27 minutes of play.
Vesnina powers herself to a huge lead
Vesnina made a fast start to the match as she overcame her early jitters to earn a solid service hold in the opening game, looking comfortable early on. Duan was struggling to handle the pace on the Russian’s powerful and consistent groundstrokes as the hard-hitter failed to absorb the power on those shots, falling behind a break in the early stages as she was unable to match-up against her experienced opponent in terms of variety and angles.
The Russian was able to maintain composed, consolidating the break for a 3-0 lead. The crowd was mainly supportive of the home player, Duan, but they were also very respectful towards the “visitor”, who was playing some high-quality tennis. The 16th seed soon found herself 5-0 up within a blink of an eye after just 20 minutes of play, looking to seal the first set in a hurry.
Duan puts up tough fight but Vesnina eventually closes out the first set
Nonetheless, Duan finally got herself onto the scoreboard with a spirited service hold, allowing her to prevent a bagel loss. Unexpectedly, the Chinese immediately got one of the breaks back in the following game as Vesnina wasted two set points before throwing in three consecutive double-faults to get broken with Duan lessening the deficit to just three games. The improbable comeback looked to be possible but Vesnina kept her focus, serving the set out on her second chance as she was third-time lucky, converting her third set point with Duan sending a backhand into the net.
Vesnina gets the early lead but was pegged back
After an even start to the second set, it was Vesnina who made the first breakthrough as she prevailed in an exciting rally which allowed her to convert a break point, leading by a set and a break as she edged closer to the win. However, the Russian’s biggest problems throughout her career, her consistency, came back to haunt her as she threw in an unfortunate double-fault on break point to hand back the break.
Duan takes the lead for the first time in the match
It marked the start of a huge momentum shift as Duan stormed back to claim a 4-2 lead with a game point for a 5-2 advantage. Vesnina completely lost the plot and failed to capture the rhythm on her groundstrokes, often hitting them into the net. However, the experienced 30-year-old Indian Wells champion was able to regain her composure at the crucial moment, recovering from 2-4, 30-40 down to break straight back and return level on serve.
Several close games followed but Vesnina was able to fend off the tough challenge as she soon found herself serving for the match after breaking serve in the ninth game. Despite facing the pressure, the 16th seed showed some nerves of steel when she came up with some powerful first serves to oust the home favorite in straight sets.