UPDATE 7.15pm: Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi has pulled off the second upset in as many matches on Pat Rafter Arena on Sunday to defeat the fifth seed Andrea Petkovic in three sets.
It is a happy hunting ground for the former world No.15, who claimed the Brisbane International title three years ago and despite faltering when serving for the match at 5-2, she would steady to close it out 6-4 5-7 6-4.
On Showcourt 1, seventh-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro rebounded to beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 3-6 6-2 6-1, while Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina thumped Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-0 6-2.
Reviving memories of her stunning run to the title in 2012, in which she toppled Petkovic in the quarterfinals, Kanepi’s brutal forehand did the majority of the damage.
Back then she won in straights sets but on this occasion was forced to battle in a see-sawing match.
“I was really, really happy actually… I didn’t expect anything,” she said.
“I just wanted to have a good match, and I thought the longer I be on the court the better for me.
“I felt my back was getting tired, because at the end of the season I had problems with my back and I haven’t played any match since two and a half months. But it’s nothing serious.”
Unseeded in 2012, Kanepi blasted past top 20 players Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Petkovic and Francesca Schiavone before conceding just three games in the final against Slovak Daniela Hantuchova.
This year, she’ll meet the winner of qualifiers Lesia Tsurenko and Madison Brengle in the second round and faces a potential encounter with Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals.
But the current world No.51 said it was too early to make any bold predictions.
“It’s tough to say,” she said. “It also depends of my opponents, how good they playing and how well I’m playing and if I have luck or no. It’s tough matches all the time.”
After losing the second set, Kanepi broke early in the decider and consolidated the advantage with a fortuitous net cord giving her a 3-1 lead.
Buoyed by a smattering of Estonian flags at Pat Rafter Arena, she then broke to love in the next game but handed back momentum when a double fault in the ensuing game gave Petkovic a sniff at 4-2.
However, the big forehand kept on swinging, and another break of serve meant Kanepi had the match on her racquet up 5-2.
She faltered on that occasion but didn’t let the opportunity slip a second time, closing it out with a winner.