Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is fast rediscovering her early-season form at the Connecticut Open, reaching her seventh quarter-final of the year with victory over former world No.6 Carla Suarez Navarro on Wednesday.
The Russian registered a sixth victory in seven meetings with the 35th-ranked Spaniard. Her 7-6(3), 6-0 triumph was her first over a top-40 opponent since Rome in May.
“I had a really good start, being up 4-1 with two breaks. Then I lost a little bit of concentration there,” Pavlyuchenkova said.
“Right away she turned it around, 4-3, 4-all, then I started to get a little bit emotional because I felt that was a bit my fault.
“I let her come into the match even though I know she’s a great player. I hate being up and then losing so I’m happy with the way I fought back and got the set.”
The No.6 seed is desperate to bookend her year with the kind of form that took her to the Australian Open quarter-finals and a 10-match winning streak in which she claimed back-to-back titles in Monterray and Rabat.
With Pavlyuchenkova serving for the opening set, Suarez Navarro put the foot down, threading one of her stunning single-handed backhands crosscourt to bring up a pair of break points. Pavlyuchenkova saved both and brought up a set point only for the Spaniard to draw level at 5-5.
A third double fault of the set from the Russian handed Suarez Navarro a set point of her own at 5-6 but she saved it to force the tie-break.
From there, it was all Pavlyuchenkova.
She secured the opening set on her second set point in a shade under an hour and with momentum in her favour, she went on a tear.
Pavlyuchenkova crushed a backhand return to bring up three match points on the Spaniard’s serve and closed out the set to love with a heavy forehand into the corner.
“I took it seriously. I fight for every point in every match,” the 26-year-old said.
“Yeah I feel a bit tired now so I didn’t want to lose that first set, for sure. She’s a great player, a great fighter.”
Second seed Dominika Cibulkova or Frenchwoman Alize Cornet will be her quarter-final opponent.
It’s the Wednesday night match Pavlyuchenkova admitted she would be keeping an eye on.
“I think the draw here is really strong. I’ll try to watch [the match] as well,” she said.
Earlier, Kirsten Flipkens continued her blistering streak in New Haven, stringing together her fifth straight match win with victory over fellow qualifier Ana Bogdan.
The world No.76 set a quarter-final showdown with Australian Daria Gavrilova with the 6-1, 7-6(1) result and became the second Belgian qualifier to reach the last eight after Elise Mertens.
Trailing 0-5 and two points from a bagel first set, Bogdan let rip with a backhand winner down the line and an ace out wide to get her name on the board.
The Belgian held with ease, though, allowing the Romanian just eight points for the set in just 22 minutes.
Staring down points for 2-5, Bogdan went on a roll, taking three games in a row before calling a medical timeout to have blisters strapped on her right foot.
Flipkens utilized the time to have her blood pressure tested and as the pair entered a second-set tie-break, it was the more experienced Belgian who accelerated towards the finish line, winning 11 of the last 13 points to move through to the quarter-finals.
“It’s been warm and humid the last couple of days but I think I was fine physically,” Flipkens said.
“My heartbeat went up really high and started to feel really dizzy and from that point on I lost three games in a row so I had to call the doctor.
“I always love to play here. Last year I was lucky coming in here as a lucky loser and playing quarters.”
Zhang Shuai ensured there would be two Chinese women through to the quarter-finals after she held off free-swinging Polish qualifier Magda Linette.
Zhang, who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals last season having won through qualifying, needed treatment on her right arm before steading to post a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 victory.
“I don’t know what happened. Second set 5-3 up, she’s a tough player coming back,” Zhang said. “My body’s still feeling a little bit crazy today. I tried my best. I tried to concentrate but its’ really tough, tough to focus all the time.”