They met at the Brisbane International less than a fortnight ago but their Australian Open 2013 rematch followed a different path, as Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko upset 24th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets.
As was the case in their Brisbane semifinal earlier this month, the pair went to a deciding set, but on this occasion Tsurenko finished on top in a dramatic 7-5 3-6 7-5 victory.
In a drama-filled final set, Tsurenko opened up a 5-1 lead and twice had the chance to serve out the match. But a combination of jitters, coupled with some determined play from Pavlyuchenkova, saw the Russian claw her way back to 5-all.
However, the world No. 85 regrouped to break the serve of her more highly-credentialed opponent and take the set 7-5.
Tsurenko’s start to 2013 has been dramatic. She was granted entry into the Brisbane draw as a lucky loser because of the withdrawal of Maria Sharapova due to injury. If that wasn’t fortuitous enough in itself, it was revealed post-tournament that she was only given entry because two other higher ranked qualifiers failed to officially sign in to be considered for a lucky loser call-up.
Regardless of how it transpired, it’s fair to say that Tsurenko is making the most of her opportunities so far this season.
After knocking out the likes of Daniela Hantuchova en route to that Brisbane semifinal clash against Pavlyuchenkova, she fought through three matches of qualification to make it through to the first round at Melbourne Park.
Playing in her second Australian Open, she will be looking to make the third round for the first time when she takes on Russian Daria Gavrilova on Thursday.
Pavlyuchenkova opened Tuesday’s contest with a flurry, racing to a 3-0 lead before Tsurenko rallied to level at 4-all. With momentum on her side, the 23-year-old then closed out the set strongly, taking it 7-5.
The duo again exchanged breaks at the beginning of the second before Pavlyuchenkova struck at the crucial moment to equalise at one set a piece.
Tsurenko lifted in the third before holding off a final surge from her opponent to claim the match.