Rodionova wins Wimbledon epic
An emotional Arina Rodionova has won her first ever Grand Slam main-draw match after saving seven match points to beat 16th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at Wimbledon.
World No.166 Arina Rodionova has saved seven match points to emerge as an unlikely saviour on a forgettable day for Australia at Wimbledon.
In the biggest win of her career, Rodionova clawed her way into the second round with a heart-stopping 3-6 7-6(6) 9-7 win over 16th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a quarterfinalist last year.
The Melbourne-based, Russian-born 27-year-old held her nerve through a desperate second-set tiebreaker before surviving an equally thrilling third set to post her first top-20 win since 2011.
“It was pretty incredible. I lost count of how many match points I faced,” Rodionova told AAP as she savoured her biggest scalp since beating former world No.15 Kaia Kanepi at Birmingham in 2011.
“Considering that it’s at a Grand Slam, this is definitely the biggest win of my career.”
Pavlyuchenkova looked to be comfortably progressing towards a clash with Kazakh wildcard Zarina Diyas after breezing through the opening set.
But after holding serve in a mammoth 12th game of the second, Rodionova somehow turned the match around and finally clinched it after two hours and 31 minutes.
An emotional Rodionova burst into tears and embraced sister Anastasia, a former top-60 player, in the crowd.
“I had a top-20 win a few years ago against Kanepi but this one means so much more to me. It’s just great timing,” the 27-year-old said.
Pavlyuchenkova looked crestfallen at the end of the match, and Rodionova believes the lack of expectation worked in her favour as she built on her strong form in qualifying.
The win also ensures the biggest pay day of her career with a cheque of $A97,000 guaranteed for reaching the second round.
“The pressure was on her and she was the big favourite to win the match,” Rodionova said.
“So there was no pressure on me. I was just determined to enjoy it, play at Wimbledon for the first time and have some fun and I certainly did that.
“I was a really physical match for both of us. I just want to focus on my recovery. I have doubles tomorrow first and then I can start thinking about my next opponent.”
Former world No.31 Diyas advanced to the second round with a 6-3 6-4 win over China’s Xinyun Han.
Diyas has never lost to Rodionova in their previous three encounters and beat her twice last month on grass at Manchester and Surbiton.