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News & Photos / Articles / Pavlyuchenkova blasts past Zvonareva

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Victorious
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A big-hitter with a cannonball serve and a raking forehand that routinely leaves her opponents on their heels, there's little doubt former junior no.1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has the firepower to match it with her elders.


Where the 19-year-old has, so far, fallen short of muscling her way into the second week at the Slams is that she routinely appears to take to the court without a game plan.


Today she didn't need one, dispatching No.3 seed Vera Zvonareva 7-6(4) 2-6 6-2 in a match whose fluctuations were dictated as much by the vacillations of the 2003 quarterfinalist's mental state as they were by the ebb and flow of the Pavlyuchenkova thumping baseline game.


Fast start

Pavlyuchenkova, who's best previous Grand Slam result was a fourth round showing at the 2010 US Open, battered her way to a 2-0 lead against a sleepy-looking Zvonareva in the opening set, devouring the pat-a-cake groundstrokes dished up to her by her compatriot and spitting them into the deepest corner of the ad court for winners.


Zvonareva woke up long enough to make a fight of things, giving rein to her go-to strategy - solid drives alternating from corner to corner - to expose the limitations in Pavlyuchenkova's lateral movement and force a slew of errors from the world No.15's weaker backhand wing.


Zvonareva won 24 of the next 35 points to take a 5-3 lead and looked all but unassailable as she stepped up to serve for the set at which point she was assailed with a fit of the collywobbles, chatting animatedly to herself, simple groundstrokes flying wildly wide of their mark. Her crisis in confidence coincided with a Pavlyuchenkova hot streak, the younger woman drilling blistering drives past her compatriot to earn two break points and converting the second with an off-forehand winner into Zvonareva's ad-court.


Pegging Zvonareva back to 5-5 with an easy service game, Pavlyuchenkova moved to within two points of the first set, taking a 30-0 lead on the No.3 seed's serve. Zvonareva wrestled that game back under control but in the tiebreak was again rendered helpless by Pavlyuchenkova's force off the ground, the no.14 seed barging her way to first set honours 7-6(4) after a little more than one hour of play.


Vera fights back

Seemingly freed from the expectation of winning the opener Zvonareva embarked on the second set in more relaxed form. Several sojourns to the net paid dividends and she broke Pavlyuchenkova's serve twice in the first four games of the set, holding her own serve with relative ease to take a 4-0 lead.


Pavlyuchenkova scrambled herself onto the board in the fifth game of the set courtesy of some swinging corner-to-corner drives, but could manage just one more game, Zvonareva serving the set out from a 0-30 deficit for 6-2 to take the match to a decider.


Back and forth

Zvonareva played a competitive game in the third set opener, earning herself a break point on the Pavlyuchenkova serve with a backhand drive down the line off a short ball. She couldn't convert but her willingness to chase down every shot that barreled off the Pavlyuchenkova racquet, and an easy service game to level the decider at 1-1, appeared to serve notice that she had no intention of being muscled off the court by her young compatriot.


Earning two break point opportunities on the Pavlyuchenkova serve in the next game, Zvonareva claimed the first with a smash off another parlously short Pavlyuchenkova backhand, punctuating the point with a clenched fist - a rare gesture of positive emotion in a tension-laden passage of play - to take a 2-1 lead.


But, as is so often the way with the mercurial Zvonareva, that demonstration of self belief was rapidly followed by another crisis of confidence. Resuming the vehement conversation that had engrossed her in the latter stages of the opening set, the no.3 seed put up minimal resistance as she surrendered the break back to Pavlyuchenkova for 2-2.


Allowed to regain her footing in her baseline comfort zone, Pavlyuchenkova slapped winner after winner from the back court, Zvonareva's game crumbling with each crushing forehand blow.

Pavlyuchenkova took the last four games of the match at a gallop, claiming the deciding set 6-2, and with it the first Grand Slam quarterfinal berth of her career.

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