Pavlyuchenkova charges past Konjuh in Ostrava, Putintseva triumphs in epic

No.5 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was a 7-6(3), 6-1 victor over qualifier Ana Konjuh in probably the most intriguing first-round clashes on the J&T Banka Ostrava Open.

The Russian had gained their solely earlier encounter, additionally on indoor laborious courts, 6-3, 6-4 within the first spherical of Moscow 2014. That match happened when Konjuh was a 16-year-old rookie on tour; seven years on, each gamers have skilled the total spectrum of peaks and troughs of their careers, however arrived in Ostrava off the again of optimistic seasons.

Unranked one 12 months in the past, Konjuh’s return from her fourth elbow surgical procedure has seen the Croat rise again to World No.77 this week. Crucially, she has now performed 61 matches this 12 months (with a 40-21 win-loss report) with out struggling recurring ache. In the meantime, Pavlyuchenkova, reached her first Grand Slam remaining at Roland Garros in Might, a decade after enjoying her first main quarterfinal there as a teen. This week, the 30-year-old matched the career-high rating of World No.13 she first set in July 2011.

Stat nook: A contest between two of the most important hitters within the draw noticed a plethora of electrifying, high-octane baseline battles, notably in a knife-edge first set. However whereas Konjuh finally tallied extra winners, 16 to Pavlyuchenkova’s 14, her unforced error depend outpaced her opponent extra considerably – 36 to 22.

All through the match, Pavlyuchenkova’s heavy strikes had extra inbuilt security to them, with Konjuh extra often making errors off routine rally balls or low-percentage winner makes an attempt. Pavlyuchenkova additionally displayed superior defence, monitoring down a few of Konjuh’s fiercest blows and finally eliciting errors from the Croat’s racquet.

Match administration: Pavlyuchenkova’s defence was essential to profitable probably the greatest and most necessary factors of the day. There had been nothing to decide on between the pair by means of a primary set through which each protected their serves effectively: the one break level had been a set level for Pavlyuchenkova at 5-4, saved when she despatched a backhand lengthy.

Trailing 0-2 within the ensung tiebreak, Pavlyuchenkova needed to race from nook to nook to retrieve an onslaught of Konjuh energy – however labored herself again into the rally and completed it with an excellent backhand winner. She would dominate the rest of the tiebreak, profitable her first set level with a canny dropshot.

The primary sport of the second set additionally proved vital. Konjuh discovered a few of her most interesting winners to avoid wasting 4 break factors, however netted a backhand on the fifth. Thereafter, she fell away as Pavlyuchenkova raced to the end line, solely avoiding the bagel thanks to at least one unfastened service sport from the seeded participant halfway by means of the set.

Putintseva saves match level, wins seventh-longest match of 2021 over Zhang

Earlier, Yulia Putintseva triumphed in a titanic 5-7, 7-6(7), 6-4 battle over Zhang Shuai after three hours and 24 minutes – the seventh-longest match of the season up to now.

The Kazakh, who was a semifinalist in Portoroz final week, was unable to shut out the primary set from 5-3 up: Zhang saved two set factors en path to breaking again for 5-5 after a seven-deuce tussle, considered one of a number of epic video games inside the epic match.

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The Chinese language No.1 sustained her momentum nicely. Along with her backhand clicking specifically, she gained 9 out of 11 video games from 3-5 down within the first set to take a 5-2 lead within the second. However the tenacious Putintseva can by no means be counted out.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Zhang squandered a match level after netting a backhand, and in addition noticed a 5-1 lead within the tiebreak evaporate as Putintseva clung on, finally levelling the match on her third set level.

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Zhang essayed one final stand within the third set, coming from 1-3 down to steer by 4-3 with the break, however even this wasn’t sufficient. Putintseva was stronger on the end, taking 12 of the final 16 factors and sealing her second match level as Zhang despatched a backhand large.

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