Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova faces a very tricky opponent in the first round of the French Open, the young rising star in Patricia Maria Tig. The Russian looks to record her first second-week appearance in Paris since 2011, but a tough draw looks to prevent her from doing so. Nevertheless, we are definitely bound for a great performance by the 16th seed and perhaps, a huge upset in the opening round by the Romanian.
Pavlyuchenkova had a fair season thus far, putting in some consistent performances to affirm her position in the Top 20. The Russian also managed to pull off several upsets over the Top 10 players, showing her ability to challenge the best of the best.
Patricia Maria Tig managed to return to the Top 100 in the rankings with some outstanding performances here and there this year. Despite claiming just three Top 100 victories this year, one of them had come against the in-form Kristina Mladenovic at the Miami Open, showing that she is capable of some huge upsets.
Pavlyuchenkova’s clay court results coming into Roland Garros
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova put in some consistent performances this year, and it reflected in her results too. Winning her 10th title in Rabat after defeating quality players like Ekaterina Makarova, Lauren Davis, Sara Errani and Francesca Schiavone, Pavlyuchenkova affirmed her status as one of the dark horses for the title this week. However, she failed to follow it up with a convincing result as she fell in three tight sets to Sorana Cirstea the day after winning the title.
Rebounding back at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia, the Russian stormed her way to the third round despite having a tough draw, defeating former French Open finalist Samantha Stosur and the red-hot Anastasija Sevastova in the process before crashing out in the third round against eventual finalist Simona Halep in three sets.
Tig’s clay court results coming into Roland Garros
Patricia Maria Tig has only played one clay court event this year coming into Roland Garros. In Bogota, Tig was given a very tough draw as former world number four Francesca Schiavone waited for her in the first round. With extra motivation, the inspired Italian came out victorious in two sets and went on to reach the final in the tournament.
Pavlyuchenkova has to ensure that her game remains consistent throughout the whole match, and prevent her unforced error count from being too overwhelming. The Russian just has to try using her powerful groundstrokes to move Tig around, controlling play from the start and gaining the momentum early on. She could also opt for direct body serves to force the Romanian to return serve at an awkward position, and should also attempt some net play to finish the points off easier and faster. Should Pavlyuchenkova play some impressive tennis, it is difficult not to see her earn the win.
Tig possesses an explosive game and aims to dictate play throughout the match to have a single chance of creating the huge upset. The Romanian has a fair serve which would allow her to win some free points, but her groundstrokes would have to be on point, precise, consistent and solid, being able to trouble Pavlyuchenkova during baseline rallies. The topspin on her shots is also beneficial for such a surface like clay, and should the Romanian play her best tennis, she could have a slight chance of winning.