Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset fourth seed and defending titlist Belinda Bencic in the opening round on Tuesday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Pavlyuchenkova won 1-6, 6-1, 6-1 in one-and-a-half hours. The Swiss player won 19 straight points to start the match, coming closer to completing the golden set – winning all 24 points in a set – but the Russian fought back to thwart it.
Although Bencic went on to win the set, the second and third sets were completely dominated by the 28-year-old who seemed revitalised after the opening set loss. After the match, Pavlyuchenkova said, “I just kept on fighting, still trying to hit every ball, trying to be there.
Mentally I was quite positive, just playing point by point - even though it was 5-0 [and] I thought, Oh my God, it's embarrassing, so bad. I think it helped me going into the second set because I took that mentality, that mindset of being positive and fighting, trying to do my thing.
I was like, ‘You know what, [it] doesn't matter what the score is, just play.’ Slowly just started to turn around, I started to find my game”. In the third set, Bencic made a brief comeback reclaiming one service break to put herself on the board at 1-3.
But a break right back on her serve widened the gap further before a final service break in the seventh game of the set ended any remnants of hope about her making a comeback in the match. This was Pavlyuchenkova’s 15th win over a top-five opponent and the second win for 2020.
Earlier, on the day, third seed and two-time former champion Elina Svitolina, too, was ousted in her opening-round match. American qualifier Jennifer Brady needed just an hour to complete a 6-2, 6-1 win over the Ukrainian.
This is Brady’s only second win over an opponent ranked in the WTA top-10. Her first, too, came this year at the Brisbane International against Ashleigh Barty. Speaking about her win, Brady said, “Obviously respecting my opponent, but not to the point where I put the opponent on a pedestal, have to think that I have to play my best tennis in order to win.
I was just focused on my game plan, myself”. Brady will play Marketa Vondrousova in the round-of-16. The Czech defeated Anastasija Sevastova on Monday, in their first-round clash. Meanwhile, Pavlyuchenkova will face either qualifier Sorana Cirstea or Anett Kontaveit in the second round. Photo Credit: WTA Twitter
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