MONTERREY, April 4, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
The second round of the WTA Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico, began with seven of eight seeded players remaining, but just three of them saw action on Wednesday – four-time champion and this year’s No. 3 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchchenkova from Russia, No. 6 seed Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium and No. 8 seed Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia.
The 33rd-ranked Pavlyuchenkova is a four-time Abierto GNP Seguros champion – in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2017. In fact, a quarter of her 12 tour-level titles have come on the Monterrey hard courts. Pavlyuchenkova’s last trophy came at Strasbourg in 2018, a year in which she finished ranked No. 43 – her 11th consecutive Top 50 finish. Now, she’s going after her fifth title win in Monterrey.
However, this year has been characterized by a series of mixed results for Pavlyuchenkova. Since reaching consecutive quarterfinals at the Australian Open and in St. Petersburg, Russia – her best runs of the season – Pavlyuchenkova suffered three consecutive round of 64 defeats on hard courts, in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami before this week. Two of those losses were to higher-ranked opponents. On Tuesday, Pavlyuchenkova’s 6-0, 6-3 triumph over fellow Russian Anna Blinkova was her first win since January. It improved her win-loss record to 8-7.
On Wednesday, Pavlyuchenkova hit 20 winners and easily beat No. 100 Ivana Jorovic of Serbia, 6-0, 6-0, in just 51 minutes for her ninth victory of the year. She lost only nine points on her serve while outpointing Jorovic 53-21.
.@NastiaPav continues to feel right at home in Monterrey!
— WTA (@WTA) 4. April 2019
“I feel great, I feel good and I really like to play here. It’s one of my favorite tournaments and I always love coming back here,” Pavlyuchenkova said after the match, quoted by the WTA website.
Next, Pavlyuchenkova will oppose either No. 5 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, ranked 67th, or No. 107 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in a Friday quarterfinal match.
Also, Flipkens, a 2016 Monterrey finalist who is ranked 58th, defeated 92nd-ranked Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia, 6-3, 6-3, by hitting 18 winners and breaking her opponent’s serve four times. Next, she’ll face either World No. 5 and top seed Angelique Kerber of Germany or No. 109 Karolina Muchova from the Czech Republic in the quarterfinal round.
“I think I just had to play my game like I did the other day,” said Flipkens, quoted by the WTA website. “I just tried to hang in there, and even though it was 6-3, 6-3, I think the match was more tough than the score says. It was a great fight for me today. This is a very special place for me.”
Finally, one of last year’s semifinalists, 134th-ranked Sachia Vickery of the United States, beat No. 114 Nao Hibino of Japan, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (5), in two hours and 50 minutes by overcoming 10 double faults and saving match point in the third set. Next, Vickery will face three-time quarterfinalist Rybarikova, who earned a come-from-behind win over 98th-ranked Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3, to advance. The 71st-ranked Rybarikova lost to Vickery in last year’s quarterfinals.
What they’re saying
Defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, who rallied from a double-break deficit in the opening set and twice was a break down in the second set before beating lucky loser Elena-Gabriela Ruse of Romania, 6-4, 7-6 (4), on Tuesday night, as quoted by the WTA website: “It was a tough match for the first round. It was very late, it’s cold. With all the conditions, I just had to fight and never lose the hope. I have five matches in total. Today was the first one, and I’m looking forward (to a title defense), one by one.”
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