Monday, September 5, 2011

US OPEN 2011: Russian Pavlyuchenkova prevails over Schiavone in marathon battle

US OPEN 2011: Russian Pavlyuchenkova prevails over Schiavone in marathon battle


Monday, September 5, 2011

No. 17 seed Anatasia Pavlyuchenkova won just three games in her fourth-round encounter with Francesca Schiavone at last year's US Open, but she did a whole lot better this time, advancing to her first-ever quarterfinal in Flushing with a nearly three-hour 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory that featured plenty of service breaks and shifts of momentum.

"I tried to be aggressive and not let her play her game," said Pavlyuchenkova. "She's very smart and puts a lot of spin (on her shots), so as soon as I slowed down my rhythm, she's just there and she controlled the point.

Both players struggled mightily on their serve, with each player losing their serve twice in the first six games of the match. Schiavone had two break-point opportunities to serve out the set at 5-3, but the penetrating groundstrokes from the former US Open Junior Champion erased those chances, and she ultimately hit a forehand winner to level the match at 4-4. A forehand passing shot on the run from Pavlyuchenkova gave her a break point in the next game, and she made good on it when Schiavone dumped a slice backhand into the net.

The Italian is known for her fight on court, and she dug deep with Pavlyuchenkova serving for the set, earning a break point by tracking down a seemingly unreachable drop volley from the Russian. One point later, Pavlyuchenkova sent a forehand well long to give the break of serve right back. With the Russian serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Schiavone laced a forehand passing shot up the line to earn set point, and the No. 17 seed finally caved in, hitting a double fault to end the set.

Pavlyuchenkova recovered from her missed chances perfectly by breaking serve immediately to start the second set, but then lost her serve at love to level the match. A backhand winner from Pavlyuchenkova led to a third consecutive break at 2-1. She held on to the lead in a nervy service game, finally converting on her sixth game-point opportunity. The Russian held serve at love to go up 5-3 and then rifled a forehand passing shot on set point to level the contest at one set each.

Pavlyuchenkova broke Schiavone for the second consecutive time to lead 2-0, but Fran converted on her second break point in the very next game with a strong forehand approach. The pair continued to hold serve until Schiavone attempted to stay in the match at 4-5. A strong return from Pavlyuchenkova forced a backhand error from the 2010 French Open champion, bringing up two match points. A missed backhand volley and second serve return erased those two chances, but Schiavone then double faulted to bring up another match point. The No. 17 seed made sure not to waste her third chance to close out the match, ripping a forehand winner down the line to end the contest and send her into quarterfinals.

Pavlyuchenkova will now play Serena Williams for a place in the semifinals.

"I don't want to go out there and enjoy just being on the center court playing against Serena," said Pavlyuchenkova. "I would like to do well, try to fight, and with my effort I try to beat her."

Match Facts

- Payvlyuchenkova hit 30 winners to 46 unforced errors

- Schiavone hit 38 winners to 49 unforced errors

- Pavlyuchenkova won the Girls Singles title at the US Open in 2006

Women's Singles 
Round 4
Arthur Ashe Stadium

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