Tennis: Pavlyuchenkova battles past Cibulkova for Strasbourg crown

Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova reacts at the WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, on April 27, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

STRASBOURG (REUTERS) - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova battled past a determined Dominika Cibulkova on Saturday (May 26) to win the Strasbourg International title with a 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 7-6(6) victory in the final.

Victory ensures Pavlyuchenkova heads to the French Open full of confidence but the world number 31 was made to work hard by Cibulkova before she came through in three hours 35 minutes to claim her 12th WTA title.

Pavlyuchenkova is no stranger to Cibulkova and Saturday's clash was the pair's 11th meeting on the WTA tour.

Cibulkova, winner of seven previous matches against her Russian opponent, started the match strongly by edging a tight opening set in a tiebreak.

However, Pavlyuchenkova dragged herself back into the contest to force a decider.

She then saved two match points at the end of the third set and held her nerve in a see-sawing tiebreak to prevail.

Pavlyuchenkova fired 13 aces and 73 winners in the match to remind her opponents at the French Open of the qualities that make her such a dangerous player.

Seeded 30th at the claycourt grand slam, Pavlyuchenkova takes on Slovenia's Polona Hercog in the first round on Monday. Unseeded Slovakian Cibulkova meets 11th seed Julia Goerges.

The French Open begins on Sunday.

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