Australian Open: Pavlyuchenkova overpowers Puig in straight sets
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova gave herself a strong victory to begin the Australian Open on Monday. The Russian veteran grew a sizable winning streak during her match with Monica Puig that resulted in a great straight sets win 6-4, 6-3 on Court Five at Melbourne Park. The loss for the Puerto Rican ended her streak of surpassing the opening round for the first time since 2014.
The two met back at the Olympics in Rio making their opening round match an interesting one where both truly needed it. Each of them lost their last two matches with only Pavlyuchenkova recording a main draw win.
While it doesn’t stand as a major advantage, she would have to deal with the big hits from the right forehand of Puig and attempt to get back to the quarterfinals as she did in 2017. The Puerto Rican hasn’t yet found that luck at Melbourne Park but would try and achieve a second round placement on day one.
She started the match breaking Pavlyuchenkova in the first before holding her off on serve in the second. Errors and double faults from the Russian were costing her early and again led to another break chance for Puig. She earned the 3-0 lead on a forehand error from the 27-year-old who already had 11 recorded.
Puig started to make her rush to the finish of the set going up 4-0 but a much-needed hold from Pavlyuchenkova changed for the improvement. She went the distance in the sixth where after a couple of breaks, the Russian achieved her first service hold to cut Puig’s margin in half.
The momentum had changed as Pavlyuchenkova climbed back with Puig committing errors on the return and struggles to come from the second serve. With just one game separating the two after seven, the Puerto Rican served to keep her hold together. She didn’t have it together as she got behind on the score which Pavlyuchenkova took on the second break chance to level the score.
Pavlyuchenkova clinched her fifth straight win over the 25-year-old who was struggling to respond making more errors as the set went by and the second serve dormant. She soon faced the door shutting in the set as Pavlyuchenkova reached three set points to win it on a line drive winner ending 41 minutes. Puig’s second serve fell below 30 percent that was a major concern going into the second set with all the momentum leaning in favour of the Russian.
She recorded her seventh straight win against Puig coming back to force deuce on her holding the serve. The eighth took a lot more effort as she trailing Puig to force deuce needing only two break opportunities to get it done. She was clearly the lone runner in the match as Pavlyuchenkova consolidated another hold to her bottom line making it a headscratcher for Puig.
The Puerto Rican somehow pulled off a win in the fifth breaking Pavlyuchenkova by battling against her service game to end her nine-game run. Consolidation of a service hold got the 25-year-old even at three all making it a much more interesting competition.
Pavlyuchenkova stopped the sudden rise of Puig and returned to her winning ways by holding serve in the seventh before breaking Puig in the eighth. She served for the match in the ninth but Puig did a lot to stave it off.
Puig put the Russian behind on the score but she answered with an ace to force deuce. Match point was soon attained thereafter where she caught Puig who wasn’t ready for it to see her tournament over after 1 hour and 19 minutes.
With a lot to be proud of with her push for control that lasted quite a bit in the match, she’ll try to bring that back again facing the winner between American Alison Riske and Dutch star Kiki Bertens on Wednesday.