Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5, 6-2 on Saturday to win the Portugal Open and claim her first trophy on clay.
The third-seeded champion, coached by former Swiss great Martina Hingis, earned the fifth title of her career while leaving her opponent winless from five finals.
One of those was here a year ago, when Suarez Navarro was unable to close it out after winning the first set against Kaia Kanepi, an opponent she beat in the semi-finals this week.
“I was playing point by point and fighting for everything. I had to dig in and fight to win”
Pavlyuchenkova has been working with Hingis officially for just a few weeks and the analytic game style and fighting determination of Switzerland’s five-time grand slam champion may be rubbing off on the 21-year-old right-hander.
“She was really happy with the win,” said Pavlyuchenkova of her mentor’s first win as a coach.
The winner was less than thrilled with a slow start to her own game.
“I was annoyed with the way I started.The winner was less than thrilled with a slow start to her own game.
“But then I relaxed, and started waiting for my chances after she had pinned me to the baseline.
“I was trying to dictate and wait for the right moment. it worked at the end.
“I was playing point by point and fighting for everything. I had to dig in and fight to win.”
‘I won’t be scared’
Pavlyuchenkova was flying to Spain for a first-round start at the Madrid Open against world number three Victoria renka, who has not played for more than a month due to injury and has yet to step onto clay.
“It’s a really tough draw, but for both of us. She’s not played for awhile and I already have some events on clay.
“I can’t say what will happen but I’ll try my best. I won’t be scared, that’s for sure. I’ll just go out there and try to make her play.”
The Portugal winner now owns five career titles, including two this season after winning the Monterrey event for a third time. She improved her record over Suarez Navarro to 4-0 in WTA play and 5-0 including a Challenger win on clay in 2008.
Suarez Navarro has now lost two finals in 2013 after going down in Acapulco to 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani.
“I lost the final but I had a good week on clay,” said Suarez Navarro.
“I had chances to win the first set but it got away from me.
“In the second set she cleaned up her mistakes and I could not match her level. It was very difficult for me.”
The first Russian to win the trophy here since Maria Kirilenko in 2008 slid into her comfort zone as her opponent’s game began to suffer midway through the opening set. Pavlyuchenkova saved three set points over two games.
She then broke for 5-all to turn the momentum on its head, earning the set after 56 minutes as she converted on her first of three set points. She reached 3-0 in the second after winning seven straight games on the way to the win in just over 90 minutes.