Melbourne | Pavlyuchenkova upsets Kerber
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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset another seed, Angelique Kerber, continuing her excellent run at the Australian Open on Monday, to reach her 6th Grand Slam quarter-final.
I think I just find it more fun now. Like, I like these tough matches. I'm enjoying it. Before I think my game was always there, and I could come up with a lot of winners before, too. It's not enough. It's not enough just to play. Sometimes... you have to win somehow, find a way. I enjoy that sometimes, too. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Playing the last night match of Day 8, the Russian battled past the German, who has successfully been flying under the radar as a possible contender for the title until now, 6-7(7) 7-6(4) 6-2 after 2 hours and 37 minutes.
In a nail-biter of a match that ebbed and flowed, Pavlyuchenkova held firm after letting a double break lead slip in the first set to outlast the 2016 AO champion in three sets.
Seeded at 30, the Russian pounded 71 winners on her way into the quarters,
“I was there pretty much every point, I mean, I tried to…” she said later. “That always paid off, or at least that gives some sort of confidence.
“Sometimes there were some moments or matches where I did not feel my best or I did not play my best, but I was still there.”
The Russian’s record in the fourth round of majors is now a remarkable 6-1, with her only loss coming in her debut at that stage to Francesca Schiavone at the 2010 US Open.
The Australian Open was the last of the four Grand Slams where Pavlyuchenkova reached the last eight, butt has gone on to become the 28-year-old’s most successful, with Monday’s result marking the first time she has made quarter-finals in consecutive years at any of the majors.
Afterwards, Pavlyuchenkova credited her ‘attitude, fight and spirit’ for her positive start to the year.
“I think I just find it more fun now,” Pavlyuchenkova added. “I like it. Like, I like these tough matches. I’m enjoying it.
“Before I think my game was always there, and I could come up with a lot of winners before, too. It’s not enough. It’s not enough just to play. Sometimes… you have to win somehow, find a way. I enjoy that sometimes, too.
“How many times you’re not going to play your best tennis every match, obviously. Sometimes something is off. You just feel more tired or whatever. That’s the part of the game.”
Pavlyuchenkova earned her first break with a volley and raced out to a 5-2 lead with a double break with a backhand return.
Kerber, the 19th seed, came back by winning 4 consecutive games to take a 6-5 lead after Pavlyuchenkova had hit 7 consecutive winners from 3-5 down.
In the tiebreak, Kerber won 7 of the next 9 points from 0-3 down and sealed her first set point with a backhand winner.
The German saved 2 set points at 4-5 and another at 5-6 in the second set, but Pavlyuchenkova closed it out at her 5th opportunity with a return winner.
In the decider, the Russian went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead and although Kerber pulled back one of them with a crosscourt forehand, Pavlyuchenkova earned her 3rd break of the set to open up a 5-2 lead and closed out the match with her 4th ace setting up a quarter-final against former World No 1 Garbiñe Muguruza, who beat Kiki Bertens earlier, 6-3 6-3.
Pavlyuchenkova started working on with her new coach Sam Sumyk in the off-season.
“Sometimes before something, I would go crazy and I would lose myself,” she laughed. “Normally you prepare the match, you discuss with your coach.
“I would go and I would just go crazy. I will start doing something. He will be like, Well, hello. Where are you? You’re just not here any more… We’ve been working on that.
“But also I want to change that myself, of course… I’ve been working so hard during the off-season, putting a lot of work in off the court and on court.”
Pavlyuchenkova has impressed with intelligent, tactically sound performances to get past Taylor Townsend in the 2nd round and overcome a 0-6 head-to-head deficit against No 2 seed Karolina Pliskova in the 3rd.
Interestingly, the last-8 showdown will pit Muguruza against her former coach Sumyk, who joined Pavlyuchenkova’s camp last September.
“I play the player, I don’t play the team,” said Muguruza, looking ahead to her upcoming clash.
“For me, I’m just going to think about who is going to be my opponent and bring my game into the court. Afterwards there’s not much to say about it.”
Anett Kontaveit came back from a set down to beat Polish teenager Iga Switek 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 7-5 becoming the first player from Estonia to reach the quarter-final at the Australian Open and will face Simona Halep in the quarters.