INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will bring up an all-Russian quarterfinal battle against Svetlana Kuznetsova after downing Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets at the BNP Paribas Open.
She needed just over two hours to tamp down a Cibulkova comeback bid and win 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, making her way into the Indian Wells quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.
"I always like to get revenges. Feels amazing, especially we just recently played in Doha and also three-set match," Pavlyuchenkova explained in her post-match press conference. "I was [also] really disappointed, though, even though it was really good level from the first till the last point.
"I thought I just didn't convert my chances, and so really happy with the way I finished."
? WTA (@WTA) March 14, 2017
Pavlyuchenkova finished with 35 winners to 23 unforced errors, keeping Cibulkova's normally aggressive game stifled at just 15 and 14, respectively. She had Cibulkova's serve under pressure throughout, pouncing on the vulnerable second serve and causing her problems on the return.
The Russian edged ahead in the opening set after trading breaks to start. Cibulkova was playing her high-octane aggressive game but leaking too many unforced errors that left her unable to capitalize on a break opportunity. Instead Pavlyuchenkova soared ahead, beating her with pace and narrowly taking the opening set.
Cibulkova didn't stay down too long, though, and regrouped in the second to mount another of her famous comebacks. She raised her level and started to dictate the points, flipping the momentum against an increasingly frustrated Pavlyuchenkova. The Slovak earned a decisive break late in the set to level the score and force a decider.
Pavlyuchenkova did well to put her disappointment behind her in the final set; she broke straightaway and built up a 3-0 lead. Despite Cibulkova keeping herself fighting for every point, Pavlyuchenkova was just too solid, and the Russian tamped down a late upset bid to take the match after two hours and seven minutes.
? WTA (@WTA) March 14, 2017
"The key was to, of course, be aggressive, which is my game, but at the same time, find the balance between being aggressive and not giving her a lot of easy shots," Pavlyuchenkova said. "Because she's great fighter, and she's always there.
"I know when she's down in the score, she's going for the shots."
With the victory Pavlyuchenkova brings up a quarterfinal matchup with her countrywoman Kuznetsova. She'll head into the match trailing 3-5 in the pair's head-to-head record, but bolstered by the fact that she's won both of their most recent encounters at Sydney and Melbourne earlier this year.
"Yeah, I know her pretty well, and I think these conditions suit her well," she said. "She's playing kind of this mix up a little bit of Spanish tennis, which I think is pretty good on these courts.
"I kind of feel very good, as well.Yeah, let's see."