MELBOURNE, Australia - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was in untouchable form in her third round clash against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, needing just 60 minutes to claim the straight sets victory and advance at the Australian Open.
Pavlyuchenkova, a former Top 20 player, backed up her big second-round shocker over No.9 seed Kiki Bertens with another solid performance against an in-form Sasnovich, who had come to Melbourne on the back of a Brisbane quarterfinal and Sydney semifinal.
But Sasnovich didn’t look her usual world-beating best against Pavlyuchenkova at Melbourne Arena on Friday, and the Russian player hit 15 winners and broke Sasnovich four times en route to the 6-0, 6-2 victory.
Nothing seemed to be going the Belarusian’s way, especially in the one-sided opening set. Instead, Pavlyuchenkova pounced on every short ball and second serve, covering the court with confidence - she hit only three unforced errors, and they were offset by seven winners during the set.
Sasnovich’s serve was letting her down, as well - she won 33% of points behind her first serve and just 25% from her second - and as a result Pavlyuchenkova reeled off three breaks in a row to claim the set to love in just 26 minutes.
Sasnovich showed a bit more bite during the second set, finally getting her name on the scoreboard after batting away a break point to hold for 1-1. But just as she was settling into the match, Pavlyuchenkova slammed the door on any comeback effort, earning the decisive break at 4-2 and then serving it out to seal her spot in the fourth round.
It’s only Pavlyuchenkova’s second-time ever reaching the fourth round in Melbourne; her 2017 run to the quarterfinals saw her beat countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach that stage before falling to Venus Williams in the next round.
Up next for the Russian, she’ll face the winner between No.5 seed Sloane Stephens or Petra Martic, the No.31 seed, who are set to take the court later today.
More to follow...