OSAKA, Japan – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset the ranking to overcome Dayana Yastremska, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open Tennis Tournament.
The WTA World No.41, who lost the 2017 final to Caroline Wozniacki, turned in one of her best performances since the Australian Open, in which she defeats Kiki Bertens and Sloane Stephens, to comprehensively dispatch the big-hitting teenager, ranked 13 spots above her, in just 57 minutes.
“I’m really happy with the match,” she said. “The score maybe doesn’t show how tough it was. It wasn’t an easy match. She’s a good and aggressive up-and-coming player. I knew I had to be sharp from the start until the end. I did that well today.”
It was Pavlyuchenkova’s power and depth that was the dominant factor in this match. While her opponent showed her capacity to hit spectacularly through the court, she was also more erratic with her groundstrokes for long periods, underlined by the 23 unforced errors she made to just 10 winners.
Certainly, the early part of the match was dominated by a combination of the 19-year-old’s wayward play and the excellence of her more senior rival, who was stringing together winners and won seven points in succession to move 4-1 clear in the opening set.
Yastremska briefly rallied with a brilliant break in which she hit winners down the line on either side of the court before a crushing shot drew a rare error from her opponent.
More typical of her match, however, was a double fault that brought up a couple of set points. Pavlyuchenkova gratefully received the gift, applying pressure with strong and deep hitting that manufactured a mistake from the other end of the court.
Yastremska, who has recent wins over Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta to her credit, was unable to rally in the second set. After winning the opening point, she lost 11 in succession as she slipped 3-0 down and was then broken again in the following game.
Pavlyuchenkova, who had only 13 wins to her credit in 2019 before this outing, showed some nerves when it came to serving at 4-0 up, but though there was a hiccup, it was a brief one as she subsequently broke to love for the second time in the set to restore her double-break advantage.
A second-round encounter against No.2 seed Kiki Bertens was sealed with a solid service game, taking her career record to a winning 8-2 in the first round of this competition.
Pavlyuchenkova has faced Bertens three times already in 2019, losing each of the last two.
“I feel like we play almost every tournament! We recently played at the US Open,” she said. “I know she’s a good and consistent player and I know I’ll have to be sharp and play my game. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing at the moment, it’s very tough.”
Elsewhere, there was a similarly comfortable victory for Elise Mertens, who took little over an hour to dispatch lucky loser Whitney Osuigwe, 6-3, 6-1.
Alison Riske, however, was on the end of a significant upset as she was defeated, 6-4, 6-3 by compatriot Nicole Gibbs, a player ranked more than 100 spots below her.
Similarly, Viktoriya Tomova secured a fine victory as she defeated Alizé Cornet in a battle of two qualifiers. The Bulgarian came through in two hours and 43 minutes, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Continuing the trend of lower-ranked players having a good day, Zarina Diyas dismantled Olympic champion Monica Puig, 6-0, 6-3 in a match that lasted 59 minutes.
Camila Giorgi was one of the few to avoid an upset but was pushed hard in the opening set before ultimately ousting Han Xinyun, 7-6(6), 6-1.