WASHINGTON, September 21, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
While Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova, the World’s No. 2 and No. 4 players, respectively, diligently worked their way toward semifinals victories on clay in Rome Sunday afternoon, thus setting up a championship showdown at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for Monday, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was out of the limelight. She was playing in a WTA International clay-court event in Strasbourg, France, at about the same time.
The World No. 36 from Russia, who lifted the trophy at the Internationaux de Strasbourg two years ago, won her first-round match over Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck, 6-3, 7-5, in 97 minutes to little fanfare on the opening day of this year’s tournament. She won 71 percent of her first-serve points, saved seven of eight break points, broke her opponent three times and outpointed the 64th-ranked Van Uytvanck 77-68.
All in all, it was a pretty good start for Pavlyuchenkova as she gears up for next week’s French Open in Paris. Next, though, she’ll face No. 54 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, who upset sixth seed Amanda Anisimova of the United States, 6-2, 6-3, in Tuesday’s second round. Pavlyuchenkova favors a baseline attack while Teichmann likes to mix her game between staying back and coming in to play serve and volley.
— Lauriane (@llauriane12) September 20, 2020
During a Zoom chat Pavlyuchenkova shared with Tennis TourTalk and a reporter for the WTA website Sunday afternoon, the 29-year-old resident of Moscow, who is fluent in French and English as well as her native Russian, said she enjoys playing in Strasbourg. “I have good memories as I’ve won it two years ago,” she said. Her 2018 Strasbourg title is the most recent of 12 titles the tour veteran has won since 2010. “It was strange and nice at the same time to see a crowd out there today. There were a lot of people.”
Playing in just her fourth match since February – all on clay – Pavlyuchenkova said, “I’m really happy with the win and the way I played.
— WTA Strasbourg (@WTA_Strasbourg) September 20, 2020
Asked why she thought she won, Pavlyuchenkova said: “I started the match really well. I was aggressive and solid at the same time. I know [Alison’s] a very tricky player, she knows how to [hit] drop shots, which she was doing a lot.
“She’s able to do a lot of stuff on the court and I tried to take that away from her and I think it worked well.”
Looking ahead to her match with the left-handed hitting Teichmann, who is 8-2 in her last 10 matches on clay and was a finalist last month at the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky. on a hard-court surface, Pavlyuchenkova said: “She’s definitely a good, tricky opponent. She’s a very good up-and-coming player. I’ve not seen very much of her before. I watched her a little today, but I try not to focus too much on my opponents.
“I respect everyone but at the end of the day I focus on me and my game,” she said.
Pavlyuchenkova is in the bottom half of the draw in second-seed Elina Svitolina‘s quarter and could face the World No. 6 in the quarterfinal round.
“When you’re in your zone and you’re playing well,” said Pavlyuchenkova of the unusual fall clay season, “you’ll think it’s still May and not mid-September.”
What they’re saying
“Nice to have fans to silence” says Mary Carillo on Tennis Channel as noisy fans, now allowed in to watch matches, delay play in the Garbrine Muguruza – Simona Halep match in Rome
— Randy Walker (@TennisPublisher) September 20, 2020
What they’re photographing
Nothing but smiles for Diego 😁
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 20, 2020
Now it can be told
Rafael Nadal out in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open.
In the 12 years that Rafael Nadal has won the French Open, he has never failed to win a clay-court title before arriving in Paris. pic.twitter.com/VAF0OwT4MG
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) September 19, 2020
The Way Back Machine – Battle of the Sexes 1973
On this day in 1973, more than 30,000 people piled into the Houston Astrodome to see Billie Jean King take on Bobby Riggs—at the time the largest crowd ever to watch a tennis match.https://t.co/rxZXGKvihO
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) September 20, 2020
What they’re sharing on social media
So many requests about my hair… so here we go!
Back to business 💇🏻♂️😉 pic.twitter.com/yaYuMA2UHG
— Karen Khachanov (@karenkhachanov) September 18, 2020