Linette outlasts Larsson in Taiwan Open barnburner

February 1 2018 by Matteo Grigatti Print This Article

No.7 seed Magda Linette of Poland had to fend off a remarkable comeback from Sweden's Johanna Larsson to advance to the quarterfinals of the Taiwan Open on Thursday, ultimately prevailing 6-1, 6-7(4), 7-6(3) in three hours and seven minutes.

"Johanna is always a tough opponent," Linette said on court, after the match. "I'm happy that I managed to keep my nerves and get the win today."

Linette held four match points in the second set before Larsson completed the comeback from 1-6, 1-4 down to send the match into a deciding third set. Linette then had to survive four match points in the decider before claiming a hard-fought victory.

“I was 4-1 up, but it was not easy," Linette elaborated to the press, after the match. "The score seems easy, but it was not an easy match until then. Then, Johanna started playing much better. I didn’t go for my shots, I stayed there, I slowed down. I paid my price in the second set, and I had to find my way again."

"It was very tough, because I was a little bit injured, so I’m glad I managed to turn it around," said Linette, who received treatment on her leg during the final set.

Linette, currently sitting at a career-high ranking of World No.60 after her first appearance in the third round of the Australian Open, outlasted Larsson behind 40 winners, to the Swede's 18, and converted 11 of the 17 break points she held in the match. Linette also had 58 unforced errors, but she was able to hold tight when it mattered and eke out the final-set tiebreak.

Linette will face off against the winner of the match between No.4 seed Timea Babos of Hungary and Slovenian qualifier Dalila Jakupovic in the quarterfinals.

A lengthy first point -- and game -- set the tone of the match, as tricky rallies and convoluted games became the norm. Linette tried to dominate by continually directing balls to the Swede’s backhand, taking the deep Larsson forehand out of play whenever she could. 

Linette survived three break points in the opening game of the match, finally holding after seven minutes, and raced to a 4-1 lead. Serving in that game, Larsson hit an errant backhand into the net, giving Linette another break point. Linette broke again with a superb crosscourt backhand, and she quickly served out the first set in the next game.

Linette had nine winners to Larsson's two in the opening set, and was 3-for-3 on break points. But the games were long and the Swede had four break points of her own.

In the second set, Larsson began to whip her forehand into the court more consistently and with higher velocity, and unforced errors started to creep into Linette’s game as she neared the finish line of what seemed to be a routine victory.

Serving at 5-4, Linette reached match point behind her first ace of the match, but a forehand miscue eliminated that opportunity, and Larsson broke again for 5-5. Errors by the Swede gave Linette a second chance to serve for the match at 6-5, and another forehand error from Larsson gave Linette triple match point. But more power hitting from Larsson forced the Pole into mistake-strewn play, sending the set into a tiebreak.

In the breaker, Linette once again held a lead, jumping ahead to 4-2 behind strong hitting from the forehand side. But after the change of ends, the nerves kicked in for the Polish player one more time, and Larsson reeled off five straight points to clinch the set, sealing it when another Linette forehand error went wide.

Larsson appeared to take over the momentum, breaking Linette in the opening game of the set. The players exchanged breaks before the Swede claimed her first shot at triple match point on Linette's serve at 3-5. But Linette was playing more aggressively at this stage, moving forward as much as she could, and held on, forcing Larsson to serve for the match.

In the next game, great defense by Larsson forced a forehand error from Linette, giving the Swede a fourth match point, but a stellar forehand volley by Linette erased it. Two more spectacular volleys by the net-rushing Pole led her to a break for 5-5, and once both players dropped serve in the next two games as well, the match fittingly moved into a deciding tiebreak.

In a moment of déjà vu, Linette led 4-2 in the final-set tiebreak, but this time, the Pole would not be denied. At 4-3, two unforced errors from the Swedish player gave Linette three more match points, and Linette only needed one, as a forehand winner square on the baseline completed a scintillating comeback, following her opponent's own comeback.

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Matteo Grigatti

Ex giocatore ed appassionato di tennis, lega la sua esperienza nel settore in particolar modo a Fabio Fognini, di cui ne dirige, dal 2007 al 2013, il sito web ufficiale. Porta poi avanti il progetto nel ruolo di vice-direttore del sito stesso, affiancandone la cura dell'immagine in ambito Social Network. Nel frattempo si dedica alla collaborazione con alcune riviste online specializzate quali Tennis.it e la sua edizione cartacea Tennis Oggi. Dal maggio 2014 entra a far parte del team Crionet.