In a battle between two top twenty players in the second round of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fended off the tough challenge of the red-hot Anastasija Sevastova as she prevailed in straight sets, setting up a blockbuster meeting with another in-form player in Simona Halep.
Pavlyuchenkova comes back from huge deficit to win the match
Pavlyuchenkova had a slow start to the match as Sevastova took full advantage, coming into the match firing on all cylinders as she clinched a service break in the opening game of the match. The Latvian then managed to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the early stages when she consolidated the break of serve, coming from 15-30 down to do so. Pavlyuchenkova got herself into deep trouble as some inconsistent serving and a couple of wobbly groundstrokes saw her lose yet another service game to Sevastova, allowing the world number 18 to take a formidable 3-0 lead after the marathon game.
Another lengthy game followed as this time it was the Russian who managed to prevail, converting her fourth break point in that game as she finally got herself onto the scoreboard and lessened the deficit. The joy was short-lived, though, as Sevastova regained the double break advantage immediately, with Pavlyuchenkova losing a 40-15 lead in the game. However, it was the same case this time round as the seeded player made an immediate reply, breaking straight back to find a way back into the set. She finally managed to hold her serve for the first time in the match as she lessened the deficit to just one game.
Her run continued after she broke serve for the third consecutive time, and took the lead for the first time in the match as the Russian held her serve for just the second time to be just a game away from winning the set. Sevastova fended off the pressure and held her serve narrowly before her hard work paid off as she earned yet another service break with Pavlyuchenkova putting in some vulnerable serves, and gifting the Latvian the golden opportunity to serve out the set. Nevertheless, the Russian did not give up and bounced back immediately and broke back to love, sending the set into a tiebreak. Pavlyuchenkova easily took the tiebreak as she jumped out to a huge 6-1 lead, earning five set points, and finally converted on one of them as she sealed the first set after 63 minutes.
Pavlyuchenkova seals the victory
Carrying the momentum over from the first set, Pavlyuchenkova had the perfect start to the second set as she broke serve in the opening game, taking a lead of a set and a break. Unlike the first set, the second set was much more straightforward as a break seemed distant from us after both players looked very solid on their serves. Sevastova continued to lag behind on the scoreboard but had the golden opportunity to break back and return level on serve in the sixth game.
However, she failed to convert her sole break point of the set and allowed Pavlyuchenkova to eventually hold serve. The Latvian would rue the missed opportunity as that was the pivotal moment in deciding the outcome of the match, and Pavlyuchenkova pounced on any opportunities she was gifted, breaking serve in the next game to place herself just one game away from the victory. Serving for the match, the Russian did not falter and converted on her third match point to seal the win after just 1 hour and 36 minutes.