On Wednesday, May 31, the first Russian derby took place at the French Open. The tournament began with second round matches in women’s singles, and in one of the games world number 15 racket Lyudmila Samsonova faced off against Roland Garros 2021 finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, now a distant 333rd in the rankings. of the WTA. . In the first round, both tennis players won convincing victories: Samsonova defeated American Kathy Volynets from the bottom of the top 100 (6: 0, 6: 1), and Pavlyuchenkova was stronger than 18-year-old Czech Linda Fruhvirtova (6: 1). 2, 6:2).
How did Anastasia end up so low in the ranking? Once upon a time, the 31-year-old, who won 12 WTA singles titles (and six more in doubles) in her career, was ranked 11th, and now she’s in the 40th… The reason it is banal – a knee injury. Due to the injury, Pavlyuchenkova missed almost the entire 2022 season and is now trying to make a comeback. She started this clay court season with a challenger, then she performed in the “thousands” in Madrid and Rome, after which, just before Roland Garros, she reached the quarterfinals in Strasbourg.
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Samsonova also could not boast of special successes in the past “thousands”. In Madrid, she reached the fourth round, in Rome – to the third. The 24-year-old has won four WTA titles in her career, but none so far this season. Lyudmila’s only exit in the final occurred in Abu Dhabi in February, and then Belinda Bencic won in three sets.
Oddly enough, Samsonova and Pavlyuchenkova have never played together, despite the fact that they have been on tour for a long time (this is especially true of Anastasia). This is partly due to the fact that the 2022 season became a breakthrough for Lyudmila, and Anastasia was recovering from injury at that time.
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The victory in the first round of the current Roland Garros was Pavlyuchenkova’s first on TBSh since January 2022. And after the match, Anastasia admitted that she had nervousness. “Well, first of all, I came back here after a long break, so I was sure that I wanted to stay here. [на турнире] while possible. This is a special Grand Slam tournament for me, especially since I reached the final two years ago. I was unable to play due to injury last year. He went out on the field today, to be sure of winning. I stay in the tournament, I think it is very important. But at the same time, I am satisfied with my performance, because of course there was nervousness. However, I managed to stay calm, it was the perfect match for me, ”he said at a press conference.
And she added that she intends not only to reach the previous level, but also to improve even more: “I am sure that there are many things that I can improve in my game. My goal is not just to return to tennis and participate in matches. Obviously I want to be the best version of myself. I want to be even better than two years ago, when I was at the top of my career. So that’s my goal now.”
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at Roland Garros
Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Pavlyuchenkova was the first to break points. However, in the fifth game, Anastasia wasted all three chances to take someone else’s serve. But Samsonova in the next game used the first break point, as a result of which she took the lead 4: 2. After that, the rivals exchanged breaks and with the score 5:3, Lyudmila served for the set. But nothing came of it: having made a double error during the game, Samsonova gave up her throw to nil. And yet, Ludmila was able to win the game, despite 17 unforced errors to Pavlyuchenkova’s 12. In the tenth game, Samsonova converted the second set point on the reception – 6:4. This is how the first set unusually ended: five breaks in a row.
In the second set, Samsonova came close to a break in the fourth game, but missed a triple break point: 2:2. But Pavlyuchenkova in the fifth game was able to take someone else’s serve, albeit from the fourth break point, after which she took her own – 4: 2 in favor of Anastasia. However, she could not keep the advantage – in the eighth game Lyudmila, using the third break point, equalized the score – 4: 4. After that, the rivals each took one game on serve, and in the eleventh game Pavlyuchenkova again took someone else’s serve, from the third break point. Then Anastasia confidently filed the set, giving her opponent only one move – 7: 5. In this game, Samsonova’s “advantage” in unforced moves was even greater – 15 against 8.
The deciding third set Samsonova started actively and led 3:0 with a break. And the second game, at the reception, Lyudmila led to zero. In the fourth game, she had another break point, but Pavlyuchenkova managed to save it and close the gap – 1: 3 not in favor of Anastasia. The players then traded breaks, and Samsonova allowed two doubles on her serve and didn’t take a single point; however, the score was 4:2 in favor of Lyudmila. After that, the rivals played on the field, and with a score of 5:3, Samsonova could not apply for the match – Pavlyuchenkova went for a double break point and converted it on the second attempt. In the tenth game, Anastasia took the serve from her and equalized the score-5: 5.
In the eleventh game, Samsonova saved two break points, but, having allowed four doubles during the game, she did not save the third break point, after which she took medical rest; there was probably pain in the abdominal muscles. Pavlyuchenkova was presented with the opportunity to run for the party. And Anastasia coped with the task, taking the game and with it the match: 4: 6, 7: 5, 7: 5. As a result, Samsonova had too many unforced ones: 51 (Pavlyuchenkova – 29). The first Russian derby at Roland Garros in 2023 turned out to be so stubborn. The tennis players spent more than three hours on the court.
So Pavlyuchenkova reached the third round of Roland Garros. At this stage, another Russian derby will take place, as Anastasia will play 24th seed Anastasia Potapova, who in her second round match turned out to be stronger than Egyptian Mayar Sherif – 3: 6, 6: 4, 6:1. And that means that at least one of the Russians will come out in the second week of Roland Garros, that is, in the fourth round.
Also today, Russians Anna Blinkova, Daria Kasatkina, Varvara Gracheva, Kamila Rakhimova and Elina Avanesyan are celebrating their matches. Kasatkina (9) beat the Czech Marketa Vondrousova (6:3, 6:4), and Blinkova, in a tense fight from the ninth match point, broke the resistance of the fifth racket in the world Caroline Garcia – 4:6, 6:3, 7:5. Follow all the events in the “Championship”.
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