Pavlyuchenkova advances at Aussie tuneup event


MELBOURNE, Australia — Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-1, 6-4 in a first-round match at the Yarra River Classic, one of six tuneup tournaments being played this week at Melbourne Park ahead of the Australian Open.

The first major of the year was delayed by three weeks to allow for COVID-19 protocols which required all people arriving into Australia to spend 14 days in quarantine.

The 11th-seeded Pavlyuchenkova has been a quarterfinalist in three of the last four years at the Australian Open.

Serena Williams was scheduled to play local hope Daria Gavrilova later Monday in the Yarra River Classic.

Williams is aiming to win her 24th Grand Slam title with victory at the Australian Open, the most of any player in the professional era. Her 23rd major was in 2017 at Melbourne Park when she beat her sister, Venus, in the final.

In other first-round matches at the tournament, Nadia Podoroska beat Francesca Jones 6-1, 6-3, Camila Giorgi beat Clara Burel 6-4, 6-3, Alison Van Uytvanck swept Su-wei Hsieh 6-2, 6-0 and Vera Zvonareva beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3.

No. 13 Danielle Collins of the United States beat Nina Stojanovic 6-2, 6-1 in a second-round match.


All six tuneup tournaments are being played this week at Melbourne Park ahead of the Feb. 8 start of the Australian Open. The biggest men’s tournament is the ATP Cup team event, which starts Tuesday. The other men’s tournaments are the Great Ocean Road Open and the Murray River Open.

In addition to the Yarra Valley Classic, the WTA has the Gippsland Trophy and the Grampians Trophy. The Grampians event is a 28-draw tournament and open only to players who were forced into hard lockdown for 14 days without the benefit of practice because of positive COVID-19 cases on their charter flights to Australia.


At the WTA’s Gippsland Trophy, French veteran Alize Cornet beat local hope Ajla Tomljanovic 5-7, 6-1, 6-3. Cornet got an early break in the deciding set and fended off several comeback attempts by Tomljanovic, who is the No. 2-ranked Australian player behind world No. 1 Ash Barty. In other Gippsland Trophy matches, Mayo Hibi beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-1 and Katie Boulter had a 6-1, 6-3 win over Anna Kalinskaya.


Corentin Moutet of France won a tough first-round match over Frances Tiafoe, beating the American 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 at the Murray River Open. The 21-year-old Moutet had to overcome a sluggish start before he found his rhythm against 2019 Australian Open quarterfinalist Tiafoe. The Frenchman outlasted Tiafoe in the third set to fight off break points and take a 3-1 lead. “It was so nice to play a match,” Moutet told the ATP website. “It was a long time since I’ve played a match, especially in front of people. A tough match, but definitely a lot of pleasure.”


At the Great Ocean Road Open, local hope Aleksandar Vukic beat Lu Yen-hsun 6-4, 7-5 and Kamil Majchrzak upset 12th-seeded Laslo Djere 6-3, 6-4. No. 13-seeded Aljaz Bedene beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).

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