Ukraine’s up and comer, Elina Svitolina was put to the sword by 25 year old Russian: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in brave and earnest fashion. The Russian caused an upset to make it into the round of 16 at the Australian Open for the first time in her career.

Ukraine v Russia

Naturally, a match involving a Ukrainian and a Russian was going to be tension filled and there was a cagey start, each player gave little away. The early signs were that Pavlyuchenkova, was settling the best and transferring her body weight to produce potent returns, putting more pressure on her opponent's serve.

In the fifth game Svitolina produced gritty returns and stoic point building to earn a break of serve and take a 3-2 lead.

This brought the match to life as Pavlyuchenkova, used the above-mentioned attributes to immediately break back. With this momentum, the Russian closed out the first set 7-5. This caused for anxious glances from Svitolina’s coach: Thierry Ascione. He was clearly worried about the fact that despite his charge having the better first serve percentage 68% to 57%, she was trailing. One of the reasons was because she did not hit a single backhand winner all set.

Grit and Determination

Svitolina did not show any dejection and displayed potential Grand Slam winning qualities of digging deep, immediately breaking her stoic opponents serve in the first game of the second set.

Only to be broken back immediately, as Pavlyuchenkova raced to a 3-1 lead in the second set. Svitolina looked down and out, at this point. Then she buckled down to do something she had not done all match and consolidated a break of serve. This galvanized Svitolina into action working the angles and upping the aggression to introduce more volleys, to race to the second set 6-4 and level the match.

Game on.

A dogged Pavlyuchenkova powered her way to a 2-0 lead in the final set, forcing her adversary onto the back foot. Using brute force, at times, to take control. Pavluchenkova held her nerve to close out the match 7-5, 6-4, 6-3.

Svitolina down but not out of this season

As previously stated, this is not Svitolina’s most favoured Grand Slam.

There is bound to be brief licking of the wounds before the hard work starts in preparation for the clay court season and specifically: the French Open.

As for Pavlyuchenkova, this isn’t her favourite Grand Slam either, nor was she at 100% fitness. When she gets her fitness up, with her game, the feisty Russian represents a decent longshot for Wimbledon.