It was yet another blockbuster match at the second round of the Sydney International between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova after they won their respective opening round matches in comfortable fashion. Kuznetsova defeated Irina-Camelia Begu in her first round match, triumphing in three sets and start her title defense on a positive note. Whereas, Pavlyuchenkova progressed against home favorite Samantha Stosur in the first round after she just lost four games in the match.
Both looked on great form and it was tipped to be a very close match with an abundance of solid groundstrokes. However, Kuznetsova was still the favorite in the match as she leads their head-to-head record 5-1 against Pavlyuchenkova, whose only victory came at the 2015 Wuhan Open where she lost just one game in a one-sided affair. Unexpectedly, Pavlyuchenkova managed to create a huge upset in straight sets after 98 minutes and earned her for her first top 10 win since her upset of Agnieszka Radwanska in Montreal last year. This upset also caused Kuznetsova to fail in defending her title which could potentially see her fall to number 10 in the rankings.
Pavlyuchenkova prevails in tight first set
The 25-year-old Russian suffered a nervy start in the opening game of the match, which eventually saw her win the 11-point game to prevent herself from falling behind to an early deficit. Kuznetsova then also had a nervy start to her opening service game which saw her hold serve after saving a break point in the process. After a few tight games that followed, Kuznetsova took the lead in the match for the first time as she broke serve to take the early advantage. However, Pavlyuchenkova replied with a perfect answer as she broke serve immediately in the next game to keep her in the first set. With a third straight break of service, the world number nine had the chance to serve out the first set and be close to a victory.
Despite having the experience which would be able to help her serve out the set, Kuznetsova was broken once again on a double fault despite managing to come from 0-40 down to 30-40. The 31-year old's woes continued as she was broken for the third consecutive time on her service to allow Pavlyuchenkova to take the first set. Unlike her compatriot, Pavlyuchenkova stepped up her game at the nervy moments which was crucial in the first set.
Pavlyuchenkova strolls to victory
Kuznetsova carried her erratic self from set one to the second set, and it was reflected in the scorelines when Pavlyuchenkova soon jumped out to a set and a break lead which made her inch closer to an upset and the top 10 victory. Kuznetsova did not let Pavlyuchenkova run away with the second set with the momentum running in her after she managed to break back immediately to return the second set on serve. Despite putting up a tough fight, Pavlyuchenkova made the first breakthrough once again as she used her solid groundstrokes to break Kuznetsova’s serve once again to regain the lead. A tough hold of service allowed the 25-year-old to consolidate the break and extend her lead to three games, putting her in a good position to close out the match as she was just one game away from the victory. Kuznetsova’s serve was finally working at the last moments of the match as she had a comfortable hold of service, but it was too late as Pavlyuchenkova eventually served out the match successfully.
Pavlyuchenkova progresses to quarterfinal
Pavlyuchenkova would now face wildcard Eugenie Bouchard in the quarterfinal after the Canadian defeated Zhang Shuai and Dominika Cibulkova consecutively, which were very good victories that would definitely boost her confidence entering the Australian Open. The pair has not met before in their careers but the Russian would still be the favorite as she is the higher-ranked player and is in great form recently.