OSAKA, Japan – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova got the better of familiar foe Kiki Bertens to progress to the quarterfinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open, 6-1, 7-5 at the expense of the No.2 seed.
In the fifth meeting in 12 months between the players, the Russian moved the mini-series 3-2 in her favor, having previously recorded wins in Wuhan and at the Australian Open.
The victory, which was completed in one hour 31 minutes, means she is into the quarterfinals of the tournament for just the second time in 10 visits, having lost the 2017 final to Caroline Wozniacki.
"It was nice to play such a good player today," she reflected. "We played at the US Open and she won. But I got revenge today here and I'm pleased.
"The difference today compared to the US Open was I took my chances. I had opportunities in New York, 5-2 up and serving for the set, but I didn't take them. Today I did and I was sharp on all the points."
She made express progress in the first round to defeat Dayana Yastremska in just 55 minutes and took less than half an hour to seal the opening set.
While the Russian No.3’s form was exemplary, making just five unforced errors in those seven games, it was set that was quickly forgettable from Bertens’ perspective. The Dutchwoman gave her opponent a significant leg up as she served five double faults in two games as she fell 4-0 behind in just 12 minutes.
The WTA World No.8 started to make some headway towards the end of the set but forced back by the fine length hitting of her opponent, she was unable to make any meaningful ground.
Although the one-sided nature of the first set would be a thing of the past, it was evident that Bertens was scrambling to keep up with Pavlyuchenkova as they shared the opening four games of the second.
In the fifth, though, Pavlyuchenkova reprised the devastating hitting she displayed so amply in the first set. A crushing backhand down the line sealed a break to 15.
It was a moment that was the catalyst for seven breaks in succession. Faced with the prospect of a opening-match exit for just the fourth time in 2019, Bertens became more energetic and more aggressive.
Her approach was typified by a forehand loaded with topspin that kissed the outside of the tramline to win that initial break back, but she was stuttering with her serve and lost two successive marathons on her own delivery.
Pavlyuchekova managed to get to within a point of victory on serve but unsuccessfully challenged a shot that had drifted long, then fired another two shots out of court to be broken.
It proved, however, a case of fourth time lucky as she again had success on her opponent’s delivery before sealing the match and a quarterfinal date with in-form Japanese wildcard Misaki Doi as she finally held.
Doi had earlier caused an upset of her own by defeating No.7 seed Donna Vekic, 7-6(5), 6-3. The WTA World No.83 saved successive set points on her opponent’s serve in the first set, which she went on to win in a tiebreak. With Vekic struggling on her delivery, she was broken three times in the second.
Yulia Putintseva was also a winner in two sets, defeating Varvara Flink, 6-1, 6-1 in just 73 minutes.