Photo : Martin Sidorjak
Gabriela Dabrowski was a point away from suffering what likely would have been a fatal defeat in the group stage of the WTA Finals.
Instead, Jelena Ostapenko’s smash found the net and the Canadian and her partner Giuliana Olmos managed to steal a victory from the jaws of defeat.
A three-set win for Dabrowski and Olmos, the second seeds at the WTA Finals, over fifth seeds Ostapenko and Lyudmyla Kichenok, brings their record to 1-1 and keeps their hopes of advancing to the semifinals alive.
Ostapenko and Kichenok dictated much of the match, firing 40 winners but also committing 27 unforced errors. Both pairs hit double digits in break points, although the fifth seeds converted four of 12, while Dabrowski and Olmos only managed two of 10.
Despite winning three fewer points than their opponents, Dabrowski and Olmos won the most important points to claim a 7-6(5), 2-6, 12-10 win.
The first set was a roller coaster, with both teams taking and surrendering the lead.
First, it was Dabrowski and Olmos putting their opponents on the back foot and breaking serve for a 4-2 lead after holding break points in each of the fifth seeds first three service games.
However, the lead did not last as a missed volley from Dabrowski gave the break back. Kichenok and Ostapenko nearly made it three games in a row when they held three break points at 4-4 but they missed them all.
A second chance came at 5-5 and this time Ostapenko ripped a forehand winner to set Kichenok up to serve for the set, but a brilliant poach volley from Dabrowski set up double break point and an Ostapenko error on a deciding point that was also a set point sent it to a tiebreak.
Kichenok and Ostapenko grabbed an early 2-0 lead, only for the Canadian-Mexican pair to win four straight points. While they would surrender the minibreak back, a volley winner from Dabrowski gave them a pair of set points and the Latvian missed her return on the second to drop the wild first set.
The second was far more straight-forward. A good return from Kichenok allowed the fifth seeds to break early as they raced out to a 3-0 lead. Dabrowski and Olmos never managed to get back in the set and were broken to love to send it to a match tiebreak.
Both teams had their leads in the breaker, but it looked like the Latvian-Ukrainian pair were in position to win it when Ostapenko served for the match at 8-7. However, they lost both points on her serve, including an easy volley wide from Kichenok, to give Dabrowski a match point on her own serve.
Dabrowski punched a volley long to level the tiebreak at 9-9. Kichenok then had a match point on her serve, but Ostapenko dumped a smash into the net. The second seeds had a second chance to close out the match at 11-10 and this time Ostapenko sent her return wide to hand the victory to Dabrowski and Olmos.
A win in their final group stage match with fourth seeds Elise Mertens and Veronika Kudermetova would send Dabrowski and Olmos into the semifinals.