On a day when temperatures in the US capital reached as high as 96°F, No.1 seed Pavlyuchenkova struggled from the outset, regularly taking cover in the shade between points and requiring a medical timeout late in the second set.
Yet somehow she survived, employing a high-risk strategy to keep the points short and her time on court to a minimum, breaking serve decisively in the final games of the second and third sets to secure a battling, 46 75 64, win.
"It's very emotional in tennis. It's physical, it's mental," Pavlyuchenkova said. "When you have heat illness, you can't really play your best tennis. I was just trying to go and finish the point early."
Pavlyuchenkova went into the semifinal having lost her past three meetings with King, including at this year's Australian Open, and was understandably pleased to have come through.
"I'm pretty proud of myself today," she added. "It was really tough conditions and normally, like this year and last year, I would lose this match against King for sure. So that shows the improvement, the big step I've made."
Several hours later, Magdalena Rybarikova clinched her spot in the final by upsetting crowd favorite and No.3 seed Sloane Stephens, 63 63. Stephens struggled with her serve throughout, and Rybarikova took full advantage to advance to her fourth career WTA final.
"It's for sure better for my confidence that I beat such players," Rybarikova, who beat No.2 seed Chanelle Scheepers in the first round, said. "Sloane has been playing very good all this season, she's a very good player, and also Chanelle has been playing good this season. So it's very good for my confidence."
Scheepers may have exited the singles at the first hurdle, but she did make it all the way to the doubles final with partner Irina Falconi. However, here they ran into an inspired Shuko Aoyama and Chang Kai-Chen, who triumphed, 75 62, in their first tournament together.