Croatia's Donna Vekic came back strongly from rain-suspended play to down Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round of the Malaysian Open on Tuesday. - SS KANESAN/ The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: The rain once again wrecked havoc on the BMW Malaysian Open at the Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC), but it proved to be a blessing in disguise for seventh seed Donna Vekic.
The 17-year-old Croatian, who is the youngest player in the main draw, came back strongly from a rain-delayed match to down Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round on Tuesday.
Vekic’s match started at 2pm under blistering heat and it affected her performance, going down in the first set.
The world No. 95 looked dead and buried as she trailed 3-1 in the second set. Luckily for her, the rain came and the match was halted for three hours.
When play resumed, Vekic emerged a different player as she broke Yung-jan twice to force a deciding rubber.
It was one-way traffic in the third set as Vekic strolled to an easy win with her strong ground strokes from the baseline.
“I think the rain break saved me! It was very hot early on and Yung-jan played great tennis in the first set. I just didn’t know how to play her,” admitted Vekic.
“During the break, I managed to calm myself down and think of a way to overcome her.
“I attacked her forehand after the interval and it worked very well because she didn’t seem to be returning so well.
“I’m really happy to win because it’s not every day you get a win like this,” added Vekic who will meet the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova in the second round.
Pliskova, who is the twin sister of defending champion Karolina, also emerged triumphant after the rain break as she edged past Hungary’s Timea Babos 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-4.
Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei, the 2012 champion, also used the rain break to her advantage as she fought back from a set down to beat Australian wildcard Jarmila Gajdosova 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Su-wei will next meet either top seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia or Turkey’s Pemra Ozgen.
It was curtains, however, for eighth seed Ayumi Morita of Japan. Morita, a semi-finalist last year, lost 4-6, 2-6 to Ukrainian qualifier Lyudmyla Kichenok.