Zhang holds match point to stun Garcia in a Tokyo thriller

No. 28 Zhang Shuai saved match point to oust No. 2 Caroline Garcia 4-6 7-6(5) 7-6(5) to advance to the quarterfinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open . The win was Zhang’s second top 10 win of the season and gave Garcia only their second loss in their last 15 games.

Zhang next faces either Karolina Pliskova or Petra Martic.

Garcia sets new season high for aces: Garcia, who is already the tour leader at aces this season, hit the new mark for most aces in a match this year with 27 aces. The previous mark was 21 aces set by Zheng Qinwen against Jelena Ostapenko at the US Open.

Garcia played with the confidence she’d earned from her stellar summer hard-court season, firing 27 winners in the opening set to seal it after 40 minutes.

How the match was won: The second set saw a quick turnaround from Zhang, who won 11 of the first 15 points to build a 3-0 lead. Garcia struggled to rediscover the range that got her the opener, but the Frenchwoman kept fighting and playing aggressively. She broke Zhang to bring the set back to serve at 5-4, but Zhang recovered from an early mini-break deficit to seal the set with her third set point.

With the help of a quick sandwich break after the second set, Zhang got back to business in the third. Both women held with clinical precision in the third set. The first break point of the set was a match point for Garcia, who Zhang saved with a big first serve en route to the 5-5 level.

In the decisive tie-break, Garcia again failed to hold an early mini-break. Zhang saved her best for the point of the game at 4-3 by passing Garcia from the baseline before improvising a desperate forehand flip passing winner. Leading 5-3, Zhang would end the high-class affair with her second match point after 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Statistics of the game: Garcia hit 67 winners on 49 unforced errors in the loss and faced just two break points, getting broken once. Zhang played a disciplined match from the baseline, notching 21 winners with 25 unforced errors. The win put them at the top in their neck-and-neck race, three wins to two.

More results from Day 3: No. 30 Liudmila Samsonova continued her dangerous form, defeating Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-2, 6-4 in the first round. Seeing her 13-match winning streak over Ajla Tomljanovic end in the US Open’s round of 16, Samsonova returned but returned to their winning streak in Tokyo. Next she meets Wang Xinyu.

No. 3 seed GarbiƱe Muguruza opened her tournament with a win, beating Greek qualifier Despina Papamichail 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the Quarterfinals. She awaits the winner of Samsonova vs. Wang.

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