Petra Martic is still without a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) title since turning pro in July 2008.
But her gusty performance in the opening day of the BMW Malaysian Open has given her the confidence to look at the rest of the week with renewed optimism.
Though the fifth seed and world number 66 of Croatia was taken to three sets by unseeded Erika Sema of Japan at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Club, she is looking ahead and hopes to progress far in the WTA event.
The Japanese World No. 138 could have created an upset but the Croat managed to stay composed after the first set loss to eventually win the match 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
“I didn’t know my opponent so only thing I could do is focus on my own play. But I wasn’t happy in the first set. I didn’t hold serve which was disappointing,” said Martic.
“It was a long match plus the heat wasn’t favourable. I flew here from Dubai but it was not this hot there. Playing in the heat is not easy but it is the same for both players.
“I had to more aggressive and saw the results of it. I could hold serve more often and that was crucial,” she added.
Martic began playing tennis at age 5 when mother introduced her to the sport. The baseliner whose favorite shot is serve and favorite surface is hard court is capable of playing good tennis when sets her mind to it.
Thus not even a break in play due to intermittent rain could douse the spirit of the Croatian.
“I wasn’t happy with the rain as I was in a good momentum,” she added.
The Croat had called on her coach during the third set but dismissed that she was seeking to change anything in particular to her game. “I just wanted to get some encouragement.”
Both players took turns to break each other’s serve in the first set with it being a normal affair until the fifth and sixth game. Martic broke serve yet again but Sema was keeping within touching distance in the eighth game. She then held serve for only the second time in the first set and broke Martic’s serve to win the set 6-4.
The second set went the totally opposite despite starting the same way as it was Martic breaking Sema’s serve in the first game. Both players managed to hold their serves for the remaining games but that one break proved decisive as Martic took the set 6-4 to force a third.
In the third and final set both players tried to out rally each other but remained cautious when serving. Martic could have broken Sema’s serve on multiple occasions but eagerness to finish the game off was hampering any real progress.
However she did hold her nerves and break Sema’s serve in the seventh game.
However Sema broke her serve in 10th game to draw level at 5-5 before the rain interrupted play. But Martic held her nerve to finish off the match.
Meanwhile earlier in the day Thai lass Nudnida Luangnam defeated Elena Bovina of Russia to take up one of the four qualifier places. She will meet sixth seed Ayumi Morita of Japan in the first round.
Meanwhile the Pliskova sisters, Karolina and Kristyna, of Czech Republic both made into the main draw after defeating Elena Bogdan of Romania and Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand respectively. Karolina will meet Chang Kai-Chen of Chinese Taipei while Kristyna will play Iryna Bremond of France in the first round of the BMW Malaysian Open.
Qualifying top seed Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei also made into to the main draw as she defeated Ayu Fani Damatanti of Indonesia. She will next play Great Britain’s Anne Keothvong, who is the seventh seed.
Meanwhile earlier in the day Olivia Rogowska of Russia defeated Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria to be the first player into the second round. She will now meet either Jelena Dokic of Australia or Kristina Mladenovic of France who are scheduled to play later tonight.