Wozniacki batters Muguruza, Pavlyuchenkova gets past Kerber to advance to Tokyo final

After defeating Angelique Kerber, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will face defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in the final.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Angelique Kerber 6-0 6-7(4) 6-4 to book her spot in the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo.   -  Getty Images

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova withstood a furious rally to beat Angelique Kerber 6-0 6-7(4) 6-4 on Saturday and book her spot in the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo.

The match appeared headed for a blowout after the 26-year-old Russian, vying for her third title this year, took the first eight games against the former world number one.

However, Kerber dug in and broke Pavlyuchenkova's serve in the third game of the second set before the 29-year-old German forced a tiebreaker and stole the second set.

A rattled Pavlyuchenkova dropped the first three games of the final set but regained her composure to win six of the final seven games and notch the victory.

“It was a lot of drama,” a relieved Pavlyuchenkova said in a courtside interview. “I actually didn't expect I would start so good today and I was playing really good tennis.”

Going into Saturday's match, Kerber held a 5-4 edge in career meetings but Pavlyuchenkova had won their most recent clash, the final of the Monterrey Open in May.

“It's never easy with her,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “It was a great match. I'm really happy to be in the final.”

Kerber said she struggled to find her feet at the start of the match.

“In the first set I was completely not in my rhythm, not in my game, and she started very well,” she told reporters. “I tried to turn it around and I won the second set. So in the end, it was still a good match.

Pavlyuchenkova will face either world number one Garbine Muguruza or defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in Sunday's final.

Wozniacki batters Muguruza to reach Tokyo final

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki flattened world number one Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-0 on Saturday to reach her fourth Pan Pacific Open final.

The Danish former number one will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova as she chases a third Tokyo title after the Russian toppled Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-7, 6-4 in a see-saw first semi-final.

Top seed Muguruza, playing her first tournament since reaching the top of the women's world rankings, was blown off court in just under an hour in a stunningly lopsided match.

"I didn't feel that fresh," the Spaniard told reporters. "It was always going to be a battle but I felt my energy was a little bit low," added Muguruza.

"I was struggling a bit in the long rallies and didn't make the important shots. I'm very disappointed, but she just played better."

Third seed Wozniacki tore through the first set, sealing it when Muguruza wafted a routine forehand badly wide. Muguruza cut a forlorn figure as she trudged back to her seat but things went from bad to worse for the Wimbledon champion in the second set.

A dipping forehand pass gave Wozniacki an early break, consolidated after another wild Muguruza backhand in the fourth game. Wozniacki, a two-time Tokyo winner and finalist in 2014, put Muguruza out of her misery by forcing the Spaniard into another whiffed backhand on match point after just 59 minutes.

"Obviously you don't go on court thinking that's going to be the scoreline," said Wozniacki. "But I just kept my head down and stayed aggressive."

 

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