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Hercog clears Cirstea hurdle, survives showers in Lugano

But in keeping with the unpredictability of the set, it was Cirstea’s accuracy that deserted her in serving for the match and in the ensuing tiebreak, while Hercog swept through 11 of the final 13 points – including running around her backhand to strike a swashbuckling return winner to break back, and winning a delightful cat-and-mouse contest en route to a tiebreak whitewash. In contrast to her total of three winners in the first set, Hercog had managed to total 17 in the second.

A rattled Cirstea was unable to regain her composure in time to begin the decider, dropping serve to love in the blink of an eye. But just as in the second set, the 2008 Tashkent champion valiantly hung on, producing one of the shots of the day in a backhand winner swung while chasing a lob – and, after a three-break sequence, came up with a strong hold to inch ahead 4-3.

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