Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova came back from one set down to beat defending champion Belinda Bencic 1-6 6-1 6-1 in 1 hour and 30 minutes reaching the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Bencic reeled off the first 19 points of the match to win seven of the first eight games of the match. Pavlyuchenkova bounced back by winning 12 of the last 13 games to clinch her 15th career top 5 win. The Russian player clinched only the second of her six head-to-head matches against Bencic and her first victory against her Swiss rival since Washington 2015. Bencic had won her past three clashes against Pavlyuchenkova at the 2018 Hopman Cup, at Wimbledon 2019 and in the Moscow final 2019.
Bencic earned her first break in the second game after four consecutive unforced errors from Pavlyuchenkova. The Swiss player went up a double break to open up a 4-0 after Pavlyuchenkova made three double faults.
Pavlyuchenkova stopped a losing streak of 19 consecutive points in the fifth game at 15-40 down, but Bencic held her service game at deuce. Bencic missed a point for the bagel, as Pavlyuchenkova won her first game with a service winner. Bencic served out the first set in the next game with consecutive unreturned serves.
Bencic earned an early break at the start of the second set after two double faults from Pavlyuchenkova. The Russian player turned around the match by winning six consecutive games to win the second set 6-1.
Pavlyuchenkova broke at love in the second game and earned the second and third breaks in two deuce games. Pavlyuchenova won a return game for 5-1 with a drive volley and served out on his first set point, as Bencic sent her pass long.
Pavlyuchenkova earned an immediate break with three consecutive winners. The Russian player, who reached the final in Osaka and Moscow, went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead. Bencic pulled back one of the two breaks in the fourth game. Pavlyuchenova broke for the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. She broke Benci for the seventh consecutive time, as Bencic hit her backhand in the net.
“As soon as I won one or two points, I was like right, this is something I need to keep doing. I was trying to realize why I won it, what did I do right. I was just trying to find that rhythm”, said Pavlyuchenkova.