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Belinda Bencic dumped out of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships by Pavlyuchenkova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova staged a dramatic fightback to stun of defending Dubai Duty Free Tennis champion Belinda Bencic and reach the second round of the tournament.

Belinda Bencic

It had been one-way traffic early on, Bencic looking in sublime form to reel off the first 19 points en route to an emphatic 6-1 opening set. But in a dramatic turnaround of fortunes, the Russian grew in confidence, reversing the scoreline in the second set as Bencic’s frustrations started to get the better of her.

From then on, there was only one winner, Pavlyuchenkova reeling off winners as her opponent’s unforced errors mounted, winning 12 of the last 13 games to take the match 1-6, 6-1, 6-1. It was quite some turnaround, victory for the Russian her second top 5 win of 2020 and only her second in six meetings with Bencic.

“I’m certainly not very happy. Of course I’m disappointed. I feel like I have to work very hard to regain my confidence. I will definitely do that. I will give everything in every practice to be confident again,” said the defending champion.

Victory for Pavlyuchenkova sets up a second round meeting with either qualifier Sorana Cirstea or Anett Kontaveit.

“I’m really, really happy with my performance, well not the first set, but the other two!” said Pavlyuchenkova afterwards. “I had to play at my best today because she obviously defending champion, feels really good here and also is a very, very good player. Thankyou everybody for the support and coming out here.”

Explaining how she turned the match around after almost conceding a golden bagel, Pavlyuchenkova put it down to keeping mentally strong and believing she could turn things around.

“It happens. Honestly I couldn’t feel the ball really well when she started off very aggressive game but I stayed positive still, even at 5-0 I felt I couldn’t put the ball into the court but I was still mentally there and fighting and I think that helped me going into the second set to have this positive mind and just fight.”

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