Millennium Post

Pavlyuchenkova fights back to reach final

Third seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fought back from a first-set whitewash to beat unseeded Romina Oprandi prevail 0-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Friday to reach the women’s final of the ATP/WTA Portugal Open.

The 19th-ranked Russian winner will bid for her second trophy this season after Monterrey, when she plays fourth seed and 2012 finalist Carla Suarez Navarro, who beat Estonian defending champion Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 6-1 in 66 minutes.

Pavlyuchenkova had few early answers for Oprandi’s blistering claycourt game in the quick opening set on a sunny spring day after a week of cold.

But once she hit her stride, the seed began to dominate as the initial flush of success faded for the 53rd-ranked challenger, playing only the third WTA semifinal of her career. Oprandi saved match points as Pavlyuchenkova tried to serve out for victory, losing serve in the process for 6-1 in final set. But a game later it was all over when she broke back. Oprandi came to the court after beating Russia’s French and US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals at the Estadio Nacional.Her previous best showings were WTA semifinals in Palermo in 2010, and ‘s-Hertogenbosch a year later. She will return to the ranking top 50 after dealing with injury in 2012.

Victory in Saturday’s final would make Pavlyuchenkova the second Russian champion here after Maria Kirilenko five years ago.
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