STRASBOURG, France – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova moved through to the second round of the Internationaux de Strasbourg by overcoming Alison Van Uytvanck, 6-3, 7-5 in an encounter that lasted 97 minutes.
The Russian’s victory was underpinned by a first serve that was finding its mark an impressive 76% of the time, while she saved seven of eight break points over the course of a hard-fought encounter.
There was just a single break of serve in the opening frame while the WTA World No.36 had to save to set points in the second before stealing the very next game and going on to close out an impressive victory over an opponent she had never previously met.
“I like this event and I have good memories as I’ve won it two years ago,” she said. “It was strange and nice at the same time to see a crowd out there today. There were a lot of people.”
Pavlyuchenkova, who has enjoyed a recent training block in the south of France, raced to the opening set in 37 minutes, setting the foundation for a solid victory in just her fourth match since February.
“I’m really happy with the win and the way I played,” she said.
“I started the match really well. I was aggressive and solid at the same time. I know she’s a very tricky player, she knows how to dropshot, which was she doing a lot. She’s able to do a lot of stuff on the court and I tried to take that away from her and I think it worked well.”
That single break in the fourth game was sufficient to get over the line, though she was threatened as she neared the tape. Van Uytvanck held two break points in the seventh game and another in the ninth, yet on both occasions the Russian was able to hold firm to seal the opener.
The second proved more complicated.
Pavlyuchenkova might have been the first to break, but her serve was coming under consistent pressure. Van Uytvanck finally took one of her opportunities in the sixth game, then with the 29-year-old serving to stay in the set moved 15-40 up. The Belgian, though, was crucially unable to convert either chance.
What followed was the lengthiest game of the match – and it proved to be the most important. Pavlyuchenova squandered two break points from 15-40 – just the second and third she had in the set – then six deuces followed, with the former champion finally profiting.
She sealed a confident service game to love, booking a second-round encounter with Jil Teichmann, who upset Amanda Anisimova, 6-2, 6-3.
“She’s definitely a tricky opponent. She’s a very good up-and-coming player,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “I’ve not seen very much of her before. I try not to focus too much on my opponents.
“I respect everyone but at the end of the day I focus on me and my game.”