Pavlyuchenkova upsets Kuznetsova to make Open quarters

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (File)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (File)

Melbourne - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova shattered fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova's distant dream of a third Grand Slam title Sunday by sweeping past the veteran and into the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The 6-3, 6-3 win on Rod Laver Arena put the 25-year-old into the last eight at Melbourne Park for the first time in nine attempts.

A 2006 Australian Open girls champion, Pavlyuchenkova will now play either American great Venus Williams or German qualifier Mona Barthel for a place in the semi-finals.

"I'm kind of in shock at the moment, but at the same time very happy" said Pavlyuchenkova. "It was really, really tough. I think both of us were nervous before and during the match."

Defeat was bitter for Kuznetsova, 31, who was targeting her first Grand Slam quarter-final since the French Open in 2014 and her first major title since Roland Garros in 2009.

The pair had met seven times before, with the Russian elder, seeded eight in Melbourne, winning five of them, including in the lead-up Sydney International this month.

But Pavlyuchenkova was always in charge as she matched her exploits at Wimbledon last year and reached her fourth Grand Slam quarter-final.

Seeded 24, she jumped out of the blocks and dominated early from the baseline, winning 12 of 14 points to race into a 3-0 lead with just eight minutes on the clock.

Kuznetsova was lethargic, struggling in the blazing sun after needing more than three-and-a-half hours to get past Jelena Jankovic in the previous round.

She finally got on the scoreboard as she began to find her first serve range, but Pavlyuchenkova kept pounding her with big-hitting ground strokes to break again for 5-1, courtesy of a driving forehand down the line.

The more experienced Russian stayed in the hunt, clawing back a break, but Pavlyuchenkova was getting 75 percent of her first serves in and was too physical, closing out the set in just 33 minutes.

She grabbed another early break in the second set, which became a dogfight as they traded breaks with Pavlyuchenkova calmly dealing with everything Kuznetsova threw at her.

There was no way back for the 31-year-old, who departed her 17th Australian Open in just 68 minutes with a limp forehand into the net.

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