Svitolina triumphs over Pavlyuchenkova

Two-time Internazionali BNL d’Italia champion Elina Svitolina edged Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 7-6(4) in the final match on Court Centrale at the Foro Italico on Wednesday.

Svitolina was the more consistent player on her return to action for the first time since she lifted the trophy in Monterrey in February, firing 21 winners and committing 13 unforced errors in the one hour 47-minute affair. The Ukrainian required just one break to take the first set and then battled back from a break down twice in the second but suffered from nerves when trying to serve it out and the match was extended to a tiebreak.

Pavlyuchenkova lacked the ability to stay with Svitolina in the long rallies and failed to capitalise on her opportunities, often going for too much or making poor shot choices. She struck more winners than her opponent (31) but also recorded more unforced errors (24). The Russian world No.36 saved two match points at 5-4 in the second set but was unable to save a third in the tiebreak when the No.4 seed hit an audacious drop shot to seal victory.

“For sure, this was the longest preparation I had on clay. And to be fair, I feel quite comfortable, I would say, or at least I’m giving myself a good chance to move better,” said Svitolina whose third round opponent will be either No.14 seed Anett Kontaveit or former Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“I try to not put so much pressure on myself that other people was not able to play on clay, because, you know, it’s important just to focus on your game, try to play as good as you can but in the end I’m very happy, because I feel more easier, I would say, on the clay than other years. But we’ll see.”