This was a first round blockbuster match between Samantha Stosur and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Sydney International. It was going to be a close battle from the start as Stosur leads their close head-to-head record by 3-2 with Pavlyuchenkova winning both their battles on clay. Despite being higher-ranked and having the home court advantage, Stosur comes into the match as the underdog as she has a history of performing poorly in Australia and Pavlyuchenkova has enough weapons to triumph in the match. With both players suffering a loss in their opening match of the year, a win here in this match would definitely boost their confidence just before the Australian Open. Pavlyuchenkova strolled to the victory in just 65 minutes having just lost a total of four games in the whole match and progressed to the second round to set up a meeting with a compatriot in Svetlana Kuznetsova. Stosur had failed to earn a single victory since the 2016 US Open.
Pavlyuchenkova powers through to first set victory
Pavlyuchenkova made the first breakthrough early in the first set as she managed to break serve in the third game of the match with some effective and accurate offensive style of tennis. The Russian further extended her lead as she held her serve comfortably to consolidate the break of service which got her a lead of two games. The first set looked to be Pavlyuchenkova’s as she broke for the second time in the first set to open up a double break lead and earn the opportunity to serve out the set. The Russian showed some nerves when serving out the set as she threw away a 30-0 lead in her service game only to get eventually broken to allow Stosur to get back one of the breaks and remain in the match after Pavlyuchenkova hit a big forehand wide on break point. However, the break was proved to be just a consolation game for the Australian top player as that fearsome backhand by the Russian was enough to seal up the first set 6-3 for her after just 34 minutes.
Pavlyuchenkova strolls to victory
The whole match looked to be in Pavlyuchenkova’s hands when she started the second set brightly as she broke serve in her opening return game to lead by a set and a break after an impressive backhand return winner on break point opportunity. That second serve by Stosur could not seem to help her at all as the Russian was able to take advantage of the situation to be on the offense straight from the first shot, allowing her to take control of the match. The Australian was still unable to find an answer against the red-hot Pavlyuchenkova backhand as she broke once more to widen the gap on the scoreboard between Stosur and her. The Australian finally got onto the scoreboard in the second set as she held her service despite Pavlyuchenkova threatening to break for a bagel victory in the set. However, this gave the Russian an opportunity to serve out the match, which she eventually did after just 65 minutes in this one-sided match dominated by the 25-year-old.
Next up for Pavlyuchenkova
This win for Pavlyuchenkova sent her into the second round where she would face defending champion and fifth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, which would definitely be a tough battle. Kuznetsova would be a heavy favourite though as she is the higher-ranked of both and would be furthermore encouraged by a 5-1 head-to-head record lead.