PRO TENNIS

Top-seeded Townsend tested in opening match in Palmetto Pro Open

Point by point

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 6/14/18

Before playing in her first-round match in the main singles draw of the Palmetto Pro Open on Wednesday at Palmetto Tennis Center, No. 1 seed Taylor Townsend's most recent match was in a far grander venue: Roland Garros in Paris where the French Open …

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PRO TENNIS

Top-seeded Townsend tested in opening match in Palmetto Pro Open

Point by point

Posted

Before playing in her first-round match in the main singles draw of the Palmetto Pro Open on Wednesday at Palmetto Tennis Center, No. 1 seed Taylor Townsend's most recent match was in a far grander venue: Roland Garros in Paris where the French Open is played.

"A tournament is a tournament," Townsend said when asked about the mental preparation needed for playing on two such different stages. "I don't care where it is; I'm looking to play matches and that's it."

Well, Townsend certainly had a match with Astra Sharma of Australia on Wednesday.

Townsend rallied from a 5-2 deficit to win the first set 7-5 and then trailed 5-3 in a 6-point tiebreaker that would have forced a third set to win the second set 7-6(7).

"She's a very good player," Townsend said of Sharma. "I just wasn't playing well early on, and I don't think she had any unforced errors until the fourth game (of the first set). I just started trying to focus more, taking it point by point."

The Townsend/Sharma match was one of 16 first-round matches in the 32-player main draw.

Townsend came into the PPO, a $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event, ranked No. 71 in the world. She went on a tear before going to the French Open. She won two tournaments and was in the semifinals of her four most recent tournaments. She then won the French Open Wild Card Challenge and then won her first-round match before falling to world No. 1 and French Open champion Simona Halep.

Sharma, who is ranked No. 396, had Townsend on her heels in the early going.

"I didn't know what to expect," Townsend said. "I went in pretty confident, but she played really well."

Sharma held serve to go up 5-2 and appeared to have control of the match. Townsend held serve in the next game and then broke Sharma to pull within 5-4. That swung the momentum and Townsend won the next three games as well to win the first set.

Sharma held serve to win the first game in the second set, and Townsend did the same. However, Townsend broke Sharma to go up 2-1 and it appeared as though that would be the difference as they held serve up to Townsend holding a 5-4 lead.

Townsend held a 30-15 before Sharma battled back, forcing two deuces before breaking Townsend to tie it at 5-5. Sharma then won with four straight points to go up 6-5 before Townsend rallied to make it 6-6 and force the 6-point tiebreaker.

Sharma won the first point on serve and then won a point on a Townsend serve to go up 2-0. It was tied at 2 and 3 before Sharma went up 5-3. Townsend won a point on Sharma's serve and then ran down a shot that appeared to have a third set secured and sent it down the left baseline for a winner that garnered acknowledgment from Sharma for a good shot.

Sharma actually went back up 7-6, but Townsend scored the final three points to win the match.

This is Townsend's third time playing in a tournament at PTC as the No. 1 seed. The first two had completely different results. In the 2015 PPO, Townsend lost in the first round. In the inaugural Sumter Pink Open in October of 2017, Townsend won the tournament.

"I really enjoy playing here," she said. "The people are nice, it's a good facility."

Townsend will face Julia Elbaba/Anastasia Nefedova in today's second round. Julia Elbaba/Anastasia Nefedova defeated Julia Elbaba/Anastasia Nefedova ?-?. ?-?.