Pavlyuchenkova ousts 2nd-seeded Safarova at Kremlin Cup

MOSCOW (AP) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia ousted second-seeded Lucie Safarova from the Kremlin Cup 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3 on Wednesday, leaving the Czech player vulnerable to being left out of the season-ending WTA finals.

Top-seeded Flavia Pennetta, the U.S. Open champion, secured her spot in Singapore next week by advancing to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Daria Gavrilova of Russia. Germany's Angelique Kerber also was guaranteed a spot thanks to Safarova's second-round loss.

The last spot was still up for grabs and will be decided at the Kremlin Cup. It will go to Safarova unless fifth-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro reaches the final in Moscow or Karolina Pliskova wins the title.

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.

Seventh-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu and eighth-seeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova also lost on Wednesday.

In the men's competition, Robin Haase of the Netherlands upset fifth-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.

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