Two Grand Slam finalists coming head to head in Round 3 at Indian Wells. Anastasia reaching her maiden Grand Slam final in Paris whilst Leylah is coming off an incredible US Open run. Anastasia is less comfortable on a hard court than on clay but that didn’t stop her from claiming the first set with some incredible hitting. Watch 1-0(40-30) The follow through on the backhand was magnificent even though Leylah moves very well on court and got there. Anastasia was a great juniors player having come from the renowned Spartak tennis academy in Moscow. Although she hasn’t found the same success in the “seniors” she still has a good repetoire. A lefty’s backhand isn’t quite as prolific as the forehand but check out 2-2(40-15). Now check out 4-3(0-40). Anastasia is facing triple break points. Serve good, return by Leylah even better. Nastia gets low rotates the wrist on the forehand and that set up the point win. Don’t underestimate how difficult the volley at the net was from the Russian, she was moving forward at speed had to get the control right. So many great points in the first set, the following one is the pick of the bunch.
Check out 5-4 adv Anastasia on deuce. The point win by Leylah was crucial as it saved set point(a stay of execution it turned out to be). The lob by the Russian wasn’t deep and far enough to the corner and it had to be with how quick Leylah is. Serving was bang on my benchmark of 60% for both although this was double fault country, 8 for Leylah and 7 for Nastia. The tide of the match turned in the third set at 2-1 to Pavlyuchenkova. Nastia looked comfortable up until then having gone a break up and seemingly cruising. Like I said this was DF territory, check out how she got broken at 40-30, couldn’t clear the net twice which was disappointing. Leaning way too far back on the serve the ball is bound to come down faster. The third set went down to just the single break of serve. The ground stroke game from both was a sight to behold. The decisive moment of the final set, the fifth game at 2-2. Anastasia committed the lion share of unforced errors in this match but none more crucial than this one at 30-40 down. A little overconfidence perhaps from the Russian. Contrast this to the confident, in control forehand by Leylah at 3-2(40-30) to consolidate the break. A rare ace in this match from the Canadian sealed the deal and will now face Shelby Rogers in an even looking Round 4 match.