French Open: Veronica Cepede Royg creates biggest upset of the day

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova threw away leads in both the sets she lost in the second round of the French Open as Veronica Cepede Royg sealed one of the biggest upsets of the tournament thus far as the world number 97 triumphed in three tough sets, saving five set points in the first set along the way. Being tipped for a deep run in Paris, Pavlyuchenkova now exits the tournament earlier than expected despite having a favourable draw.

Pavlyuchenkova throws away huge lead and wastes five set points

Pavlyuchenkova started the match on a positive note as she relied on Cepede Royg’s unforced errors to make the first breakthrough in the match, breaking serve in the opening game as the Russian had the best start possible. Some really strong first serves then brought Pavlyuchenkova to lead by a 2-0 scoreline, consolidating the break without facing any problems. Another poor service game saw Cepede Royg commit more unforced errors, allowing the Russian to take yet another service break, continuing to stroll through the match.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in action | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in action | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Unexpectedly, Cepede Royg managed to break straight back as Pavlyuchenkova played a very loose service game, allowing the underdog to lessen the deficit. Nevertheless, some strong play from the 16th seed saw her regain the double break advantage as Cepede Royg ended the game with a disappointing double fault. It soon became a galore of service breaks as the lower-ranked player broke once more before finally holding her serve to keep herself just one game away from the Russian, but not without any obstacles as she had to fend off a break point in the process.

Unfazed by the pressure, Pavlyuchenkova comfortably held her serve to be just a game away from winning the first set. Serving to stay in the set, Cepede Royg displayed some great mentality when she fended off triple set points and forced Pavlyuchenkova to serve it out. However, the Russian wasted another two set points as she fell victim to some solid groundstrokes from Cepede Royg, but also played some lackluster tennis to allow the Paraguayan to return level on the scoreboard all of a sudden.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova hits a backhand | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova hits a backhand | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Cepede Royg then took the lead on the scoreboard for the first time in the match, looking poised to clinch the first set with the momentum running in her. Getting through a narrow service game, Pavlyuchenkova held her serve to send the opening set into a tiebreak to decide the winner. The Russian then fell into deep trouble after falling behind 3-5 in the tiebreak, with Cepede Royg looking in red-hot form.

Pavlyuchenkova fights back

The start of the second set was very tight in terms of the scoreboard as neither of them was able to make a breakthrough in their return games. Unsurprisingly, it was Pavlyuchenkova who earned the first break points of the set but was unable to convert a total of four of them as Cepede Royg held her nerves to remain on serve. Unfazed by the miss of the break points, the Russian comfortably broke serve to love with some strong returns as she took the lead in the second set.

Veronica Cepede Royg managed to create the huge upset | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Veronica Cepede Royg managed to create the huge upset | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

Winning her 10th straight point in the set, Pavlyuchenkova consolidated the break and soon jumped out to a formidable 5-2 lead as Cepede Royg had no answers to the Russian’s excellent offensive play. Serving to stay in the set, the Paraguayan crumbled when facing the pressure as she served an unfortunate double fault on set point, gifting the second set to Pavlyuchenkova with a 6-2 scoreline and leveling the match at one set all after just 1 hour and 36 minutes of play. It was a near perfect set played by the Russian, who won 100 percent of second service points and 75 percent of first service points as compared to just 18 percent of points won behind the second serve for Cepede Royg.

Cepede Royg fights from a break down

Pavlyuchenkova had the perfect start to the final set as she had a service hold to love in the opening game, carrying over the momentum from the second set victory. The Russian then made the first breakthrough in the decider as she broke serve in a tight game to take the early lead. However, the lead soon evaporated as Cepede Royg broke straight back to return level on serve which allowed her to gain some confidence. The Paraguayan then saved two break points to hold serve in the following game and used the momentum to win her third straight game, opening up a 3-2 lead as she looked poised for the huge upset.

Cepede Royg in action at the Hobart International this year | Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images AsiaPac
Cepede Royg in action at the Hobart International this year | Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images AsiaPac

Pavlyuchenkova then continued to keep herself in the contention for the win, holding her serve to love and kept the deficit at just one solitary game. The Russian then finally earned her long-awaited service break as she broke straight back to 30, leveling the scores all of a sudden. However, Cepede Royg did not lose hope as she regained the lead after Pavlyuchenkova crumbled on her serve, allowing the Paraguayan to have the golden opportunity to serve out the match. This time, she managed to hold her serve as Pavlyuchenkova sent some of the returns flying out wide, gifting Cepede Royg the best win of her career.

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