The third round of the Miami Open saw Bethanie Mattek-Sands continue her dream run as she created a huge upset over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets, progressing to the fourth round for the first time in her career.
Pavlyuchenkova recovers from huge deficit
Mattek-Sands had the perfect start to the match as her strong serves first paved the way for her to hold serve in the opening game of the match, with Pavlyuchenkova unable to handle the pace of her shots and the offensive style of tennis the American plays. Strong returns then gave Mattek-Sands a 15-30 lead in her opening return game, but Pavlyuchenkova managed to come up with her first serves and followed it up perfectly to narrowly hold onto her service game and prevented herself from falling behind an early deficit.
Earning a break point out of nowhere in the next game, the Russian was unable to convert it as she hit a forehand shot just wide, allowing Mattek-Sands to hold her serve eventually. What followed up next was the longest game of the whole match as it spanned across 18-points, in which Mattek-Sands capitalized on her fourth break point in the game and saved four game points in the process to clinch the game and seal the first service break of the day. Pavlyuchenkova continued to look like she was constantly being outhit by the American as she allowed her to consolidate the break of serve, opening up a 4-1 lead.
The Russian finally had a comfortable service hold as she came up with several strong serves to secure the service hold and lessen the deficit. Unexpectedly, Pavlyuchenkova broke straight back in the next game with the help of a sloppy service game played by Mattek-Sands as she allowed the Russian to play her normal explosive game, returning on serve all of a sudden.
Facing two break points in the next game, Pavlyuchenkova saved both of them with some excellent offensive tennis which in the end got her the tough service hold, making the scores 4-4 with that service hold to love in the sixth game for Pavlyuchenkova being pivotal in deciding the proceedings for the first set.
The Russian’s excellent run continued as she broke serve for the second consecutive time after she hit a fluke return winner on break point to take the lead for the first time in the match, and earned the golden opportunity to serve for the set. Going down 0-30 while serving for the set, Pavlyuchenkova stepped up her game just at the right time to eventually seal up the tough first set after 55 minutes, winning five straight games to do so.
Mattek-Sands whitewashes Pavlyuchenkova
It went all wrong in the second set for Pavlyuchenkova as she was whitewashed in the second set, having been handed a bagel by the world number 158. It first started with Mattek-Sands overcoming the disappointment of losing a formidable 4-1 lead in the first set by stepping up her game and started to dictate play with her powerful serves and groundstrokes, seen when she was able to hold all her service games in the second set.
Furthermore, Pavlyuchenkova was visibly affected by her emotions and was getting frustrated with herself during the set as she quickly fell behind 0-3 in the second set. Despite her efforts to get back from 15-40 to deuce in the fourth game, Mattek-Sands rode on her momentum and continued to stroll through the set, eventually breaking serve for the third straight time to seal up the second set with a bagel scoreline after just 27 minutes.
Pavlyuchenkova’s woes continues
Mattek-Sands’ run continued in the final set as she strolled through the opening games to get the advantage and open up an early 3-0 lead within a blink of an eye, with her net play and powerful groundstrokes doing all the work for her. Whereas, for Pavlyuchenkova, nothing was working for her as she was handing out free points thanks to her unforced errors, which also helped Mattek-Sands a lot.
After the rout of losing nine consecutive games, the Russian finally spared herself from further embarrassment as she won her first game in what seemed like an eternity to get onto the scoreboard in the final set, hitting a perfect passing winner on her game point which was followed by a loud roar from her.
Despite getting to deuce in the next game, Pavlyuchenkova was unable to find a break point opportunity and allowed Mattek-Sands to open up a 4-1 lead, which she eventually extended to 5-1 after the American broke serve once more in spite of the Russian’s tough resistance. Pavlyuchenkova did not falter easily, though, as she broke straight back to love, which allowed her to stay in the match for at least one more game and give herself a lifeline in the match.
A comeback seemed to be coming our way as Pavlyuchenkova held her serve to consolidate the break and lessen the deficit to just two games, before earning a break point while Mattek-Sands was serving for the match for the second time in a row. However, the Russian hit a forehand that landed just barely long on break point to miss the golden opportunity to return level on serve. That miss proved to be crucial as Mattek-Sands eventually relied on her strong serves to close out the match after 2 hours and 7 minutes of play.