Pavlyuchenkova ousts 2nd-seeded Safarova at Kremlin Cup

MOSCOW (AP) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia ousted second-seeded Lucie Safarova from the Kremlin Cup 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3 on Wednesday, leaving the Czech player vulnerable to being left out of the season-ending WTA finals.

Top-seeded Flavia Pennetta, the U.S. Open champion, secured her spot in Singapore next week by defeating Russia’s Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-4. The Italian then withdrew from the Moscow tournament because of a right foot injury.

Germany’s Angelique Kerber also was guaranteed a place in the tour finals thanks to Safarova’s second-round loss.

The last spot was still up for grabs. It will go to Safarova unless Carla Suarez Navarro reaches the final in Moscow, where she is the only seeded player remaining. Sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova could have booked a ticket to Singapore by winning the Kremlin Cup, but she lost her second-round match Wednesday to Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia.

In the men’s competition, Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili upset third-seeded Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-3, while Robin Haase of the Netherlands defeated fifth-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.

Roberto Bautista Agut, a finalist last year and the No. 2 seed, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Turkey’s Ilhan Marsel.

After easily taking the first set, Pavlyuchenkova went up 5-2 in the second, but then lost the next three games and failed to convert her only match point in the set with Safarova serving at 6-5. She double-faulted on her opponent’s first set point in the tiebreaker. Reclaiming control in the decider, the Russian got the win when Safarova hit a volley long.

Pavlyuchenkova, last year’s winner in Moscow, stretched her unbeaten streak in indoor hard court events to 17 matches. She also won in Paris last year and clinched her first title of this season on Sunday in Linz. In the quarterfinals, she will play her first match against fellow Russian Margarita Gasparyan, who upset ninth-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-2, 6-3.

Seventh-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu and eighth-seeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova also lost on Wednesday.