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Sorana Cirstea Saves Match Points, Wins Longest WTA Match of 2023 in Dubai

Sorana Cirstea edged Beatriz Haddad Maia in three hours, 29 minutes, the longest WTA match of 2023. Photo credit: Getty for Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Dubai delivered memorable marathon matches today.

Ultimately, some notable seeds couldn’t stay in step.

World No. 70 Sorana Cirstea battled back from a set down, and saved two match points in the second set to prevail 4-6 7-6(7) 6-4 against 11th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Resilient Romanian Cirstea overcame 10 double faults and denied eight of 12 break points in a grueling three-hour, 29-minute epic that was the longest WTA match of the 2023 season.

Cirstea’s conquest broke the record for longest match of the season set yesterday when Liudmila Samsonova stopped Paula Badosa 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-4 in 3 hours and 22 minutes.

The first eight ga6-mes of match went with serve in a back-and-forth encounter, before the Brazilian turned on the power to break in game nine before holding serve to take the first et.

The second set mirrored the first with minimal openings for either player. In the tiebreak, Maia looked on course for victory until Cirstea found something extra, saved match points and turned the tables to force a deciding set.

Unflustered at missing chances to close the match, Haddad Maia raced into a 4-1 lead before a resurgent Cirstea won five games in a row to seal a memorable victory. 

“I wasn’t planning to break the record to be honest. I fought really hard today and have nothing left,” Cirstea said. “Beatriz played amazing and sometimes tennis is not fair.

“You play for three and a half hours and the difference is a point. But this is tennis, I’m happy to come out on the winning side and I’m proud of the way I fought. This is what tennis is all about.”

The 32-year-old Cirstea will face Karolina Muchova next. Former Australian Open semifinalist Muchova defeated Bernarda Pera 6-1, 6-4 smacking eight aces and winning 27 of 30 first-serve points. 

Over on Court One, 2022 Dubai finalist Veronika Kudermetova was bounced in another marathon match.

Anhelina Kalinina upset the 10th-seeded Kudermetova 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in three hours, three minutes.

Kalinina came firing back in the final set, breaking her opponent’s serve three times in the third set before serving out the match. She will now play Dayana Yastremska in the second round. Yastremska was a 6-2, 6-3 victor over Alize Cornet.

American Lauren Davis saved nine of 15 break points stopping Swiss left-hander Jil Teichmann 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours, 14 minutes.

The win vaults Davis into a second-round showdown vs. reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka.