SYDNEY (Reuters) – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won an all-Russian battle against Svetlana Kuznetsova to oust the defending champion in straight sets in the second round of the Sydney International on Tuesday.
Pavlyuchenkova beat world number nine Kuznetsova 7-5 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash against Canadian Eugenie Bouchard who caused another upset by defeating number three seed Dominika Cibulkova.
On a bad day for seeded players, ninth seed Italian Robert Vinci also fell to Czech Barbora Strycova 6-2 6-3.
Pavlyuchenkova came into the match having lost five of the last six meetings against Kuznetsova and twice fell back in the opening set.
The 31-year-old double grand slam winner was serving for the set at 5-4 before Pavlyuchenkova reeled off the last three games to bag the set.
“I’m really happy, especially because she’s not only defending champion but my fellow (countrywoman) and she’s top 10 and she’s had a really incredible year last year,” Pavlyuchenkova said.
“I think I did everything well. I wasn’t serving as well as I did yesterday; I was a little upset with that, but I’m so happy that even with a lower first serve percentage, that I was able to win the match in two sets.
“I had zero expectations here; I was just trying to enjoy the tennis, but it’s working good so far.”
Next up for the Russian will be former Wimbledon finalist Bouchard who completed her fourth consecutive hard-court win against world number six Cibulkova with a 6-4 6-3 victory.
It will be the first WTA quarter-final appearance for the Canadian in 10 months since Kuala Lumpur, where she lost in the final of the Malaysian Open.
“Any time you play one of the best players in the world… it’s like a standard of where you’re at,” Bouchard said after taking her head-to-head record over Cibulkova to 4-1.
“I feel like I could play better tennis. I feel at times we both kind of were making unforced errors, but we were also pressuring each other to make mistakes.
“I think I served okay. There are things I would have liked to do better…But overall, it was just me pushing myself and trying to do something on every point that helped me get through.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)