Soweto 28 apr 2009 R32: Cavaday (347) 3-6 7-62 6-4
Brit has grit but Krajicek's class is key
Second seed Michaella Krajicek got off to a shaky start at this week's Soweto Open as Britain's Naomi Cavaday gave her a run for her money in the first round on Tuesday. But sanity prevailed and the blonde from the Netherlands pulled it back to go through with a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory.
Although only No.2 seed, all eyes were on Krajicek here as she's still coming back from a long injury layoff. She dropped to 330th in the world in 2008 after knee and wrist injuries but is already up to 135th since coming back to the Tour.
While the rest of the field here are all playing the ITF circuit - which is one level down from the WTA Tour - as a result of their rankings, Krajicek is only going through the motions on her way back to the main Tour, where she once reached the top 30 alongside the best in the world.
That's why she's the centre of attention at Soweto and the sparse crowd could be heard grunting and cheering her on as she struggled to get going against Cavaday.
Though each struggled with the altitude - which was evident from the over-hitting on both ends of the court - Cavaday seemed in control of the match as Krajicek's frustrations became more and more apparent.
Cavaday's early success wasn't all due to Krajicek's struggles; the Brit had grit, soldiering on through one-and-a-half sets before Krajicek got her act together.
Cavaday looked more solid throughout the first set and she was going along very well until 4-2 in the second set when Krajicek won three games in a row to get to 5-4. They then went even to 6-6 and Krajicek easily clinched the tiebreak 7-1 to get back into the match.
It seemed all over for Cavaday then as she wilted in the third set and easily surrendered 6-4 to hand Krajicek the match.
"It was very close and Cavaday played very well," said Krajicek after the gruelling encounter. "She played a solid match and didn't give me anything in the first set but I played much better in the third.
"I improved as the match went on but I'll be hitting some more balls and playing doubles so that I can be match-ready in the next round."
Earlier in the day, top seed Katie O'Brien of Britain took a 6-1, 6-1 win over 16-year-old South African Chanel Simmonds.
It was a huge match for Simmonds since O'Brien is the highest-ranked player she's come up against and the youngster didn't disgrace herself, with the Briton paying her a compliment after the match.
"It was a lot tougher than the score suggested. She was able to string together a few good points, but I was too solid for her in the end," said O'Brien.
"I'm pleased with the win and she really gave me a good workout - something you need in the first round."
|Brit has grit but Krajicek's class is key 29 april 2009|
|Mixed Emotions at Soweto Open 30 april 2009|