2010 French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone was handed an early exit from the Moorilla Hobart International tonight losing 2-6 6-3 7-6 (3) to Belgian world no. 54 Kirsten Flipkins.
The No.6 seed loss marked another major upset on day two of the tournament with top seed Su-Wei Hsieh sent packing by China’s Shuai Peng in the previous match.
Schiavone got off to a good start, breaking Flipkens’ serve in the fourth game of the match to take an early lead. She then proceeded to take the first set 6-2 in what looked set to be a routine win for the former world No. 4.
The momentum changed drastically for the 32-year-old Italian in the second set. Flipkens took the first four games of the set, and despite some resistance from Schiavone, was able to wrap it up 6-3 to level at one set a piece.
The final set lasted one hour and nine minutes with both players refusing to give in. Schiavone was broken in the first game of third but bounced back in the next game to level at 1-1. From there the Italian really fired up taking the next three games to seemingly sew up the match at 5-2.
Schiavone then double faulted and handed a break back to Flipkins to give her a sniff. The 26-year-old Belgian took the opportunity given to her winning the next two games to level at 5-5.
Even after two hours of play both players were still covering the court well. A massive point at 40-30 in the 12th game saw some marvelous groundstrokes, with Flipkens pushing Schiavone all the way to a tie-break.
Flipkens immediately took control of the tie-break securing the mini-break before running away with it to record a 2-6 6-3 7-6 (3) victory and will proceed to the second round of the tournament.
Flipkens will player the winner of tomorrow’s match between Serbian Bojana Jovanovski and Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues.
By Nick Cuthbertson