STUTTGART, Germany - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was in full flight in the third set of her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix clash with hometown favorite Julia Goerges when the German was forced to retire, trailing, 4-6, 6-2, 4-0.
"Definitely not the way I wanted to end that match," Pavlyuchenkova told the media, after the match. "I finally found my momentum and I felt very strong at the end."
Pavlyuchenkova hadn't scored a win over the 2018 Wimbledon semifinalist in nearly four years, but booked her spot in Stuttgart's second round after one hour and 46 minutes.
"I’m still pleased with my performance in the end, after maybe not the best start that I expected," Pavlyuchenkova stated. "I have to give her credit for serving unbelievable today, especially in the first set."
"In the second set, I just said to myself, ‘Okay, I have to go for it in the returns, and I have to guess or try something different, go for every shot,’" the Russian continued. "I tried to change something to get the win, and it worked."
Goerges helped lead Germany back into Group I of Fed Cup just last weekend, winning a three-setter against Diana Marcinkevica, and kept that momentum going early against her Russian rival, taking the only break of the opening set to move within sight of another victory.
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Pavlyuchenkova, who discussed needing to adjust to the unique conditions after the match, soon steadied in the second set, taking a 3-0 lead and never looking back to level the match on her third set point opportunity.
Goerges called the trainer to address a neck issue early in the decider, and the turning point chame shortly thereafter, when the former Top 10 star had two break points to get the match back on serve.
Pavlyuchenkova saved both and was rolling towards the finish line when the German ultimately opted against continuing.
In all, it was a clean match from the Russian, who struck 20 winners to just 15 unforced errors, converted four of eight break point opportunities, and saved six of seven faced on her own serve.
Up next for the 2019 Australian Open quarterfinalist is Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, who knocked out French Fed Cup heroine Caroline Garcia earlier in the day. Kontaveit leads their head-to-head 2-1, and the Estonian won their most recent match -- a marathon quarterfinal in Stuttgart last year.
"[Kontaveit's] a very tough opponent, she’s a great fighter, especially in that match last year that we had here," said Pavlyuchenkova. "I think it was almost a three-hour match, so close, and I couldn’t close it out in the end.
"But it was a good level of tennis, and that’s what I expect from us tomorrow as well. She’s a good player, but I’ll be ready, and hopefully I will start the match better than today."