Good morning! Welcome to our middle Sunday updates from the 2021 French Open. We are kicking off with the round four showdown between two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka and No.31 seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The players are due on court Philippe-Chatrier from 11am BST.
V. Azarenka vs A. Pavlyuchenkova | Roland-Garros
Women's Singles | Round 4 | 06.06.2021 | Court Philippe-Chatrier
V. Azarenka (15)
A. Pavlyuchenkova (31)
GAME, SET AND MATCH! - AZARENKA 7-5 3-6 2-6 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. The No.31 seed dumps the two-time major winner and former world number one out with a superb late flourish. She serves it out to love to claim victory in two hours and nine minutes. The win sees Anastasia match her best run at Roland Garros when she made the last eight back in 2011. She will now meet Serena Williams or Elena Rybakina for a spot in the semis.
BREAK! - AZARENKA 7-5 3-6 2-5 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. Wow! A huge crosscourt forehand seals another break for the Russian after a fifth double fault of the game from Azarenka had gifted her the opportunity. Anastasia will now serve for the match.
AZARENKA 7-5 3-6 2-4 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. Azarenka squeals in irritation. She blows two break points with a succession of errors and Pav survives to consolidate and take control of the decider.
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BREAK! - AZARENKA 7-5 3-6 2-3 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. Vika is rattled. She directs her frustration towards her coach after a double fault threatens to unhinge her. An ace doesn’t help her settle and a pair of very make-able forehands into the net cough up a very poor service game.
AZARENKA 7-5 3-6 2-2 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. That’s a plucky hold and very Azarenka-esque from Pav. She hooks a crosscourt backhand out but then relies on that shot to get her out of dodge and make deuce from break point down. The Russian stands firm and wriggles out of a dangerous situation to level matters. This is still anyone’s match.
AZARENKA 7-5 3-6 2-1 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. That’s a dogged and perhaps fortunate hold. Vika’s drop shot twice comes to the rescue from deuce after Anastasia came within a whisker of another break with a rasping backhand that somehow failed to clip the baseline.
BREAK! - AZARENKA 7-5 3-6 1-1 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. “You break, I break, you break….” There’s that pattern again! Pav hits back from 0-40 but can’t make deuce as the drop shot comes good again for Vika on her final chance.
BREAK! - AZARENKA 7-5 3-6 0-1 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. The 29-year-old Russian is slightly off balance but that doesn’t seem to matter as she sweeps a sublime backhand winner up the line to secure an instant break.
SET! - AZARENKA 7-5 3-6 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. We are heading into a decider! Pavlyuchenkova serves it out on her third set point after Azarenka blew the chance to fend off another with a backhand long.
BREAK! - AZARENKA 7-5 3-5 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. That’s a bad time to throw in a really poor service game. Azarenka starts and finishes with double faults, saving two of three break points but coming undone by her own hands in the end. The Russian No.31 seed will now serve for the set.
A recap from some of the memorable shots of Day 7.
Top 5 Shots, Day 7: A Musetti behind-the-back lob takes the spoils
AZARENKA 7-5 3-4 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. Azarenka tries to apply some serious pressure at 30-30 but doesn’t really come close. Anastasia hammers a backhand winner and follows up with a drive volley that’s too hot to handle to nudge the board.
AZARENKA 7-5 3-3 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. The pattern is weirdly familiar. There’s certainly a sense of déjà vu about Set 1 and 2. There have been plenty of early breaks with Pavlyuchenkova taking charge. But back comes Azarenka as we get to the business end and we finally have another hold as the Belarusian slams an ace down the middle T to take the game to 30. All square.
BREAK! - AZARENKA 7-5 2-3 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. Azarenka has two bites at the break back – and grabs it on the second. She rushes a backhand when charging onto a short ball and hooks into the net. She screams in annoyance but then sees her opponent slap a poor unforced error off the forehand into the net. It’s a real ‘break’-fest out there at the moment.
BREAK! - AZARENKA 7-5 1-3 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. A majestic backhand volley on the stretch notches up double break point for the Russian. She unloads a backhand down the line in search of the clincher but misses by millimetres and screams in frustration. She doesn’t have long to wait though as Azarenka fires long in the next point to drop serve once again.
BREAK! - AZARENKA 7-5 1-2 PAVLYUCHENKOVA. What a response from the two-time Grand Slam champion! She battles back from 30-0 down to make deuce and then rattles a sensational forehand winner on the run. Pavlyuchenkova can’t move quick enough to handle a deep return to her feet and she steers an awkward shot long to allow the No.15 seed to break right back.
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