HONG KONG – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova came from behind to win a typhoon-delayed marathon Hong Kong Open final 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) against Daria Gavrilova in the early hours of Monday morning.
It was three minutes past one o’clock in the morning local time (7.03pm SA time) when sixth seed Pavlyuchenkova converted the third of her match points.
It enabled the World No 21 to edge over the winning line after 3hr 11min of attritional tennis against her Australian opponent punctuated by frequent rain delays.
Almost an hour earlier, the Russian had spurned two championship points at 5-4 on her own serve only to see another heavy shower send the players scurrying for cover.
And Pavlyuchenkova only had herself to blame for not getting the job done earlier after racing into a 3-0 lead when the match eventually began at 9.18pm after a near five-hour delay.
She failed to serve out for the first set at 5-3 after being in control almost throughout and saw gritty World No 22 Gavrilova steal in 7-5 on the back of a run of three unanswered games.
“I’m just happy to finally finish this match in brutal conditions,” said Pavlyuchenkova after being presented with the trophy.
The second set was almost a carbon copy of the first but this time the Russian managed to hold her nerve at 5-3 and took it to a decider against the seventh seed.
Both players had chances in the third set, but they remained deadlocked as tiredness set in and the clock ticked past midnight
Pavlyuchenkova then broke for 5-4, but once again failed to close out on her own serve.
After a 40-minute final rain delay the pair broke each other’s serve yet again and the match headed for the deciding tiebreak.
Earlier Typhoon Khanun, packing winds of 155km/h and heavy rain, had virtually shut down the southern Chinese city, delaying the singles final which had originally been scheduled for a 4.30pm start.
The weather finally relented just after 7pm and typhoon warning signals were lowered across the city, but an initial attempt to start the final at 8.30pm was aborted when the rain returned.