WTA Hong Kong: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova books a spot in the final

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova put in a solid performance to oust the unseeded Wang Qiang in the semifinals of the Hong Kong Tennis Open, prevailing in straight sets.

WTA Hong Kong: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova books a spot in the final
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova progresses to her fourth WTA final of the year | Photo: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images AsiaPac
Wang Qiang
0 2
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Looking in great form, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was able to claim a straight-sets win over the dangerous Wang Qiang in the semifinals of the Hong Kong Tennis Open, and she seemed to have overcome her struggles with the conditions earlier in the week, progressing to the final on her debut. Wang, who was unseeded in the draw, had an incredible run after defeating Samantha Stosur along the way, but the Russian proved to be too strong for her ultimately.

Pavlyuchenkova gets the early lead

Pavlyuchenkova began the match in the best possible way, and she threw in a forehand return winner on break point to grab the head start into this semifinal encounter. The Russian was simply dominant in the early stages as her forehand was working exceptionally well, and she was hitting winners after winners with Wang having no answers to her aggressive play. Pavlyuchenkova consolidated the break with an amazing drop shot winner for a 2-0 lead.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in action at the China Open last week | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in action at the China Open last week | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac

Wang pegs back

As the match progressed, Wang slowly settled into the atmosphere with many Chinese fans in attendance to support her. She got onto the scoreboard with a confidence hold of service before she came out of nowhere to break straight back in the sixth game, prevailing in the longest game of the match as the underdog took advantage of Pavlyuchenkova’s inconsistency to return level.

The first set goes in the Russian’s favor

However, Wang was also unable to hold onto her service game as Pavlyuchenkova saved a game point to regain the advantage, and consolidated to be just a game away from clinching the set. It turned out that the Russian did not need to serve out the set as Wang collapsed on her serve, with her first serves abandoning her at the critical moments. Eventually, Pavlyuchenkova sealed the opening set with an excellent backhand winner after 37 minutes of play.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in action at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, where she defeated Wang Qiang in her path to the final | Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images AsiaPac
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in action at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, where she defeated Wang Qiang in her path to the final | Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images AsiaPac

Pavlyuchenkova rides on her momentum

Pavlyuchenkova looked on course for her second consecutive win over Wang after powering to an early lead in the second set, taking the break without facing any problems. Just when it seemed like the Russian was strolling through the match, the Chinese was determined to put up a tough fight as she broke straight back to return on serve.

The Russian extends her lead

After an exchange of service holds, it was once again Pavlyuchenkova who made the next breakthrough as she came up with several merciless returns, keeping her target on the vulnerable second serves. However, the Chinese started to lose her focus and left too much open space on the court for her opponent to hit winners easily, which allowed Pavlyuchenkova to open up a formidable 5-2 lead.

Wang Qiang in action at the China Open last week | Photo: Wang He/Getty Images AsiaPac
Wang Qiang in action at the China Open last week | Photo: Wang He/Getty Images AsiaPac

Wang fails to complete the comeback as Pavlyuchenkova takes the win

Pavlyuchenkova’s issue with closing out matches came back to haunt her when it mattered the most, allowing Wang to embark on an improbable comeback as the Chinese unexpectedly returned on serve with the Russian throwing in an unfortunate double fault on break point at 3-5. However, the pressure was now on Wang’s shoulders as she had to serve to stay in the match. Two incorrect Hawkeye challenges from the underdog were pivotal in deciding the outcome of the match as Pavlyuchenkova finally managed to close out the win after an hour and 15 minutes of play.