Pavlyuchenkova outlasts Gavrilova in three-set rollercoaster to capture Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open 2017


Due to Tropical Cyclone Khanun, the start of Sunday's final did not materialize until 9:15pm, a lengthy five-hour delay.  Russian sixth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova dropped the opener against Australia's Daria Gavrilova before she dominated the final set tiebreak to lift the title, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), in three hours and thirteen minutes of play.


"First of all, I want to thank everyone for staying up so late for our match.  Congratulations to Dasha for an amazing week. It was a really tough match.  This morning we were talking about how we were going to share this trophy but honestly, we both deserved it.  Thank you to my coach and my hitting partner, they've been great this week.   Also, the tournament director and all the sponsors for taking us out to visit all these nice places in Hong Kong we had such an enjoyable time," said winner, Pavlyuchenkova.

 

"Tough battle today. Thank you to all the tournament sponsors and the organisers for staging such a wonderful event.  It's my third time in Hong Kong and I really enjoy playing here.  Thanks to my team and my dad for flying out here to support me. I hope to see you all again next year," said Gavrilova, the runner-up.

 

Pavlyuchenkova starts strongly and begins by serving a high percentage of first serves and finding the mark at once with punishing strokes.  Taking advantage of several early unforced errors from her opponent, the Russian breaks Gavrilova at once to establish a quick-fire, 2-0, lead before consolidating comfortably for 3-0.

 

Pavlyuchenkova is dominant on serve in this early stage, as her sweetly-struck drives off either wing is beginning to maneuver her opponent laterally with increasing regularity, the sixth seed holds for 4-1.

 

Th Russian is also hitting with depth, often forcing Gavrilova deep back behind her baseline.  Although the world No. 21 was up 40-15 with a pair of game points in hand, the pugnacious Gavrilova forced the Russian into committing four successive errors and breaks back for 4-3.

 

The pair then proceeds to exchange another pair of service breaks to bring the score up to 5-4 in favour of Pavlyuchenkova.  Spectacular retrieving from Gavrilova wards off the threatening Russian, who came close to taking the set, but the Aussie holds with some awesome defending to draw even, 5-5.

 

A thundering forehand return serve up the middle forces the 6th seed into an error, as Gavrilova digs deep to conjure a break to lead, 6-5.  The Aussie wasted a set point by delivering an ill-timed double fault, but after setting up set point number two with a pair of running passes, the world No. 22 finally holds for 7-5 when a Pavlyuchenkova return sailed long.

 

Pavlyuchenkova begins positively and rips consecutive unreturnable forehand crosscourts to hold for 1-0.  The Russians rips another huge inside-in forehand winner right into the corner before forcing Gavrilova to hit long with another deep topspin to break for a 2-0 lead.  The No. 6 then seed secures a solid hold to consolidate for a 3-0 advantage.

 

Gavrilova's counter-attacking prowess again frustrates the 6th seed into making unforced errors, as she is induced into going for more power too early, too soon at times.  The feisty Aussie, expectedly, returns the favour and fights back to break to peg the score back to 3-2.

 

With Daria leading 40-0 on her serve in the next game, Pavlyuchenkova strong-arms the next points with some blistering return serve winners to reestablish her advantage and leads, 4-2.  Although Gavrilova manages to force deuce, the Russian knuckles down to win a protracted baseline exchange and follows that with a soft drop volley winner to hold eventually to jump out to 5-2.

 

Following another typical, animated on-court chat with her coach, Pavlyuchenkova served confidently and struck with purpose and power to hold for 6-3 and forces proceedings to a third set against Gavrilova.

 

After the players exchanged a pair of breaks to start the final set, Gavrilova throws down her fifth ace of the match to hold for a slender 2-1 lead.  The Russian then calls a medical timeout to address a lingering back issue, as rain begins to drizzle down on Victoria Park Stadium Court.

 

The No. 6 seed recovers well to hold her next service game to draw even at 2-2, and returning serve aggressively, breaks Gavrilova to go up 3-2.  Pavlyuchenkova's reluctance to venture into the forecourt when presented with short replies is costing her dearly at times, and after she hits another forehand long, Gavrilova breaks back to a create 3-3 standstill.

 

A screaming inside-in forehand corner winner from the No. 6 seed brings up another break point and Gavrilova overhits a big wind-up forehand to concede serve to trail 4-3.  However, the fierce seesawing battle continues and the Australian digs deep to break back for an 4-4 impasse once again.

 

Like two heavyweight boxers trading punches, Pavlyuchenkova forges ahead with a service break of her own after the 22nd-ranked Aussie double faults to trail 5-4.  Serving for the match at 40-15, the Russian belts a double fault and commits a string of errors to lose serve with the match back on even terms again, 5-5.

 

In the ensuing game, Gavrilova throws down successive double faults to fall behind 0-40.  After she saves the first break point with a huge off-forehand winner, the skies part open with rain falling fast and furious, resulting in the chair umpire calling a temporary suspension to the match.

 

Local time is now 12.15am and match duration currently stands at one minute past the three-hour mark with the score at a set apiece and 5-5 in the third.

 

After a 35-minute rain delay, Pavlyuchenkova breaks the Aussie to go up 6-5 and serves for the match for a second time.  However, the never-say-die Gavrilova is at her best again and engineers her own disruption to force a tiebreak.

 

In the deciding breaker, Gavrilova draws first blood and tiptoes out to a 3-1 lead.  However, the 21st-ranked Pavlyuchenkova conjures a series of heavy forehand crosscourt and backhand down-the-line winners to bag the next seven points on the trot to cement a tough, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), in three hours and thirteen minutes to win her third title this season.

 

Pavlyuchenkova cruised to the finals without losing a set this whole week.  The Russian's previous final appearance was in Tokyo three weeks back when she lost in straight sets to Caroline Wozniacki.  She is the top seed in Moscow next week and she will also be competing for the Zhuhai Elite Trophy later this month.

 

Gavrilova improved her year-end ranking significantly from No. 233 in 2014 to No. 25 in 2016.  She reached a career-high No. 20 following her first title at the Connecticut Open in New haven in August, when she beat the likes of Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova along the way.

 

She also beat Ashley Barty and Caroline Garcia in Strasbourg before losing to Sam Stosur in the final, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.  The Aussie's early clay court form was rather good, beating the likes of Madison Keys, Caroline Garcia, Svetlana Kuznetsova, to reach the quarterfinals of the Italian Open, a Premier 5 event.

 

Pavlyuchenkova has maintained a year-end ranking not lower than No. 45 since 2009.  She won ten WTA Tour singles titles in her career thus far, with two of them, Monterrey on hardcourts and Rabat on clay, coming this year.  She beat both Caroline Garcia and Angelique Kerber en route to the Monterrey title.  She reached a career-high No. 13 in 2011.

 

The two met just once before in Moscow last year when Gavrilova beat Pavlyuchenkova in the quarters, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

 

The Russian was the No. 1-ranked junior back in 2006.  That year, she won the Australian and US Open girls' singles crowns, but she lost to Aga Radwanska in the French Open Junior Championships final.

 

The Aussie, three years younger, reached No. 1 in the juniors in 2010 when she won both the US Open and Youth Olympic Games. 

 

Meanwhile, No. 1 seed Chan Yung-Jan and Chan Hao-Ching are in no mood to waste more time following the lengthy rain delay and broke China's Wang Qiang and Lu Jia-Jing twice in the opener and thrice more in the ensuing set to power to a 6-1, 6-1 victory in just fifty-eight minutes.  The Chinese Taipei duo is the first team to capture back-to-back doubles titles here in Hong Kong.

 

At present, the Chans are ranked 2nd and 15th respectively on the WTA doubles rankings list.  Between them, they have won more than forty WTA doubles titles thus far in their careers.

 

Thank you, guys!  Tournament Director, Chris Lai, extends his sincere gratitude to the HKTO Steering Committee members, the tournament team, security company, venue set-up contractor, in addition to the numerous volunteers, ballboys, ballgirls, and linesmen for working together to prep the courts ready for the finals after the incoming typhoon was threatening to derail the conclusion of the tournament.

 

 

 

 

2017 Prize Money and Ranking Points Breakdown

 

Past Champions

Year   Singles   Doubles
2016   Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)   Chan Yung-Jan/Chan Hao-Ching (TPE)
2015   Jelena Jankovic (SRB)   Yaroslava Shvedova/Aliza Cornet (KAZ/FRA)
2014   Sabine Licsicki (GER)   Karolina Pliskova/Kristyna Pliskova (CZE)
         

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