Pavlyuchenkova ousts 2nd-seeded Safarova at Kremlin Cup

MOSCOW — Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia ousted

second-seeded Lucie Safarova from the Kremlin Cup 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3 on

Wednesday, reducing the Czech player’s chances of making the

season-ending WTA finals.

Safarova’s second-round loss guaranteed a spot in Singapore next week for Germany’s Angelique Kerber.

The last two spots were still up for

grabs, and U.S. Open champion Flavia Pennetta also was in Moscow in hope

of securing one of them. She advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2,

6-4 win Wednesday over Daria Gavrilova of Russia.

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.