US Open: Daria Kasatkina, Elena Vesnina progress but Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova crashes to shock defeat

The Russian contingent suffered a huge blow today at the US Open as their second highest-ranked player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova crashed out in the opening game but fortunately, Daria Kasatkina and Elena Vesnina put in some excellent performances to progress to the second round.

US Open: Daria Kasatkina, Elena Vesnina progress but Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova crashes to shock defeat
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova would be disappointed with her performance today | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

It was a mixed day for the Russians on the outside courts at the US Open as the second highest-ranked Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova failed to make use of her favorable draw, falling to Christina McHale to three sets despite winning the first. Nonetheless, Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina lived up to expectations and defeated their quality opponents to progress to the second round.

McHale produces huge upset in front of home crowd

It was a tight start to the match with no breaks of serve in the opening seven games. Both players had their chances on the return but failed to convert at the crucial moments as neither was able to dig for a break point opportunity. It was the higher-ranked player who made the first breakthrough as Pavlyuchenkova earned her first break points and eventually converted for a 5-3 lead, being just one game away from winning the first set. Not disappointing her fans, the Russian fended off two break points before successfully serving out the set 6-3 after 40 minutes of play.

The second set also followed a similar storyline as both players were unable to find many opportunities and McHale’s lone break of serve in the second game proved to be pivotal, eventually allowing her to clinch the second set 6-3. Pavlyuchenkova had a break point in the final game but she was unable to capitalize on her opportunities.

McHale carried over the momentum into the final set and she broke serve early in the decider. Pavlyuchenkova was unable to find the rhythm at all as she failed to provide a tough fight against the motivated American, who served a breadstick over the Russian to get the confidence-boosting win.

Christina McHale managed to exact revenge for her loss in New Haven | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Christina McHale managed to exact revenge for her loss in New Haven | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

Kasatkina claims revenge

In a repeat of their encounter at the exact same round and tournament last year, Wang Qiang looked determined to replicate that result and she made the perfect start as she broke serve in the opening game and seemed to be strolling through the match. Nonetheless, Kasatkina broke straight back in the eighth game and eventually sent the first set into a tiebreak. Throwing away a huge 6-2 lead in the tiebreak, Kasatkina wasted four set points as Wang stepped up her level of play to clinch the tight first set after 56 minutes.

The second set was much better from Kasatkina as she broke serve twice and fended all six break points she faced in the set. Despite some tough resistance from Wang, the Russian was still able to level the match at one set all.

Kasatkina continued to ride on the momentum as she jumped out to a formidable 4-0 lead in the deciding set, looking very determined to get the win. Putting up an excellent performance with her well-controlled aggression, the Russian eventually outgunned her hard-hitting opponent in three sets after 2 hours and 13 minutes of play.

Daria Kasatkina in action at the Connecticut Open | Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America
Daria Kasatkina in action at the Connecticut Open | Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America

Vesnina prevails in battle of compatriots

In a rematch of their first round encounter at the Wimbledon Championships against Anna Blinkova, Vesnina came into the match firing on all cylinders as she stormed to win the first set 6-1 within just 26 minutes, losing just a mere two points behind her consistent serve throughout the set.

The second set was much better for Blinkova, who managed to create some opportunities on the return and took the lead for the first time in the match. However, she was unable to hold onto her lead as the experience of Vesnina eventually got her through in straight sets, 6-1 6-3 after just 1 hour and 15 minutes of play.