The second round of the BNP Paribas Open saw Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova face off against qualifier Anett Kontaveit, with the Estonian prevailing in their only previous meeting at the US Open by triumphing in straight sets then. This time, it was a totally different result as the Russian strolled to a comfortable straight sets victory to book a slot in the third round, where she will face Barbora Strycova.
Pavlyuchenkova takes the first set
A comfortable start to the match saw Kontaveit earn an easy service hold as she started the match on a positive note. Unforced errors almost cost Pavlyuchenkova greatly as she went down 0-30 in her opening service game of the match, having a huge risk of trailing by an early deficit. Nevertheless, Pavlyuchenkova came up with some good serves to win four consecutive points to get onto the scoreboard.
The Russian then came up with some good returns and hit some solid groundstrokes to make the first breakthrough and break serve for the first time in the match, taking a 2-1 lead. Unexpectedly, Kontaveit made an immediate reply as she broke back to 15 and returned level on serve. There was a third consecutive break of serve as Pavlyuchenkova saved two game points for yet another break, regaining the lead as she looked great in the return games.
From then on, both players were very solid on their serves and neither of them was able to make a breakthrough in their return games. Therefore, Pavlyuchenkova used her advantage from the two consecutive breaks of serve to clinch the first set by a 6-4 scoreline.
Pavlyuchenkova steals the second set
A fast start to the second set saw Kontaveit secure a narrow hold of service to start the second set on a positive note and start her pursue of sending the match into a deciding set. Some inconsistent and wobbly groundstrokes from the Russian then cost her greatly, causing her to be broken to love and gifting the Estonian the advantage early in the second set.
Nevertheless, the Russian was unwilling to lag behind in the scoreboard and she made the best reply possible after she broke straight back to return on serve, hitting some strong returns in and playing world-class offensive tennis. Facing a break point in the next game, Pavlyuchenkova eventually came from 0-30 down and hit a backhand winner on break point to barely hold onto her serve and remain on serve in the set.
After a couple of comfortable service holds by both players, Kontaveit found a golden opportunity to regain the lead as she earned a 0-40 lead in Pavlyuchenkova’s service game at 4-3, and had the chance to serve out the set had she broke serve then. Nevertheless, the Russian dealt with the pressure well and put in some good serves to fend off all those break points and narrowly hold onto her service game once more.
This tight service game proved to be encouraging for Pavlyuchenkova as she broke serve just in the next game to earn the chance to serve out the win, which she successfully did so as the Russian strolled to the victory after an hour and 25 minutes of play.