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25 Dec, 2022 14:37

Russian ace shares Grand Slam hopes after making comeback

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was forced to miss much of the 2022 season
Russian ace shares Grand Slam hopes after making comeback

Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova still feels capable of winning a first Grand Slam title despite missing a large part of 2022 as she dealt with a lingering knee injury.

Pavlyuchenkova, 31, announced ahead of the French Open in May that her season was already over because the injury was limiting her “physically and mentally to compete and practice fully.”

But after taking time out to rest and rehabilitate, the former Russian women’s number one returned to action at the inaugural World Tennis League exhibition event in Dubai this week.

Pavlyuchenkova teamed up with Austria’s Dominic Thiem for three mixed doubles matches – losing two and winning one – and played a singles contest against world number one Iga Swiatek, which she lost 6-4 6-3.

Nonetheless, Pavlyuchenkova was part of the ‘Hawks’ team alongside Thiem, Elena Rybakina, and Alexander Zverev which won the tournament overall.

Russian ace shares Grand Slam hopes after making comeback

The competition served as a useful tune-up for the start of the season, where Pavlyuchenkova has been handed an entry ticket for the Australian Open in January, despite her WTA ranking of 368 due to her inactivity.

Pavlyuchenkova is a three-time former quarterfinalist in Melbourne, while her best-ever Grand Slam run came at the French Open in 2021, where she lost out in the final to Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic.

Pavlyuchenkova says that even though she was sidelined for so long, she still harbors dreams of a maiden major title after her recovery from injury

“I would love to win a Grand Slam,” Pavlyuchenkova told Tennis Majors. “That’s my goal for sure and it still drives me.

“Of course, I always wanted to be on top of the game and be [world] number one, but I think that’s like the dream of a little girl.

“Actually, I’m more focused on the titles and the big results more than the ranking.”

The Australian Open will be the last time Pavlyuchenkova has a chance to defend rankings points, meaning the threat of dropping down to lower-tier ITF tournaments should she sink further in the ratings.

The Russian said she would have “no problem” with working her way back up if the worst came to the worst, Tennis Majors reported, adding that she “still feels like she’s 19 years old.”

Among the other Russian women’s talent set to head to Australia in January, Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova are both currently inside the women’s world top ten.

Elsewhere, compatriots Ekaterina Alexandrova and Liudmila Samsonova occupy spots inside the top 20.