Barbora Strycova kept her opponent back long enough to come out a winner at the Toray Pan Pacific Open 2018 on Tuesday. The veteran Czech tennis star kept her end together, defeating Zarina Diyas 6-4, 6-4 in the main arena of Tachikawa Tachihi in Japan.
The two met at this tournament five years ago, where the Czech took down the Kazakh in straight sets in qualifications. While it was not a big deal for either of them at the time, being in the first round only meant that progression was of utmost importance.
Diyas kept things going after her first-round loss at the US Open, going two rounds in Chicago before heading to Japan where she got to the quarter-finals at Hiroshima. With the warmup, she looked to give a challenge to Strycova, who hasn’t been in competition in over two weeks.
They held serve to begin the match, where it looked to be a pace set by Diyas until she gave room to Strycova who forced deuce. They went six breaks where, on a third break point chance, the Czech earned the lead. She soon lost it in the fourth with Diyas breaking back on the second attempt.
Strycova broke once more before holding in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead on the Kazakh. It was the start of service holds that eventually brought an end to the set with Strycova containing her margin of victory that ended in 51 minutes. The 32-year-old had seven winners in her route to leading the match, making 11 unforced errors to Diyas’ 17.
She made up for the earlier mistakes, holding her service against Strycova to start the second set, despite needing to play a break on deuce. The Czech veteran nearly had her first serve to love in the second but lost a point to Diyas in the process.
She kept the pressure on the Kazakh as they reached a three-all tie, waiting for a moment of vulnerability. It came in the seventh when Diyas lost her grip, giving Strycova a break point that changed the pace. She consolidated the seventh with a hold in the eighth giving her a shot at playing for the match.
Diyas wouldn’t let another service game slip away and stayed alive in the ninth but lost in the end, with the Czech closing things out with three match point attempts, needing a second to get it done in 1 hour and 36 minutes.
With a great win due to the strong first serve that produced 32 of 44, and 10 of 16 from the second serve, the Czech gave herself a chance to go into the second round facing Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday.