In January 2006, at the age of 14, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won the Australian Open Junior title. Even though she had never before won a match at a Junior Slam, she stormed to the title, not dropping a set until her final encounter with current top-20 mainstay Caroline Wozniacki. With the talent and presence to win a large tournament at such a young age, Pavlyuchenkova was touted as the next great teen phenom, and with good reason. She followed up her Australian Open victory with two more Junior Majors over the next year, establishing a clear hold on the #1 Junior ranking.
Over the next year, Pavlyuchenkova attempted to balance a schedule of playing some Junior events and some Senior events as she tried to make the transition out of the Junior tour. She recorded only mixed results at both, but not much more could be expected of her attempts to compete at the senior level at 16. Many players go through a difficult stretch at this stage in their careers as they know they can win at the Junior level, but they also know their game must undergo changes to win on the WTA. In January of 2008, two years after her first Australian title, Pavlyuchenkova ended her Junior career to focus exclusively on the Seniors.
When she made this decision, Pavlyuchenkova was ranked outside the top 300 in the world, but not long after that she truly started to find her form. She recorded solid ITF victories in Minsk and Moscow, then traveled to Paris where she qualified for the French Open and made the second round. Not satisfied with those results, she qualified for Wimbledon and made the third round. Over the span over just a couple of months, she saw her ranking rise from outside the top 300 to inside the top 100. The potential and hype were starting to turn into results.
Pavlyuchenkova has not looked back since then, steadily moving up the rankings to finish 2008 at 45 in the world after recording two more very competitive ITF victories in October. While Pavlyuchenkova was consistently defeating a number of quality players on the circuit, she has struggled in challenging the very best in the women’s game this year. Recently, she looked quite overmatched in losses to Elena Dementieva and Venus Williams in Paris and Dubai. Nonetheless, the talent was still evident, and the question that remained for Pavlyuchenkova was when she would start to rack up the more notable victories.
The wait was not long as this week, in Indian Wells, Pavlyuchenkova signaled that she was ready, scoring an impressive second round win over world #3 Jelena Jankovic. In an aggressive 6-4 6-4 victory, she displayed the kind of talent that she needs to contend with the top players in the world. The wins did not stop there, as Pavlyuchenkova is still going at Indian Wells, reaching the Semifinals without having dropped a set and recording her best ever tournament result. With an important 450 ranking points already secured and a huge supply of confidence against this depleted field, the streak could very well continue for at least another round. Regardless of what happens in her Semifinal, Pavlyuchenkova has demonstrated that after three years of hype, it is definitely time for her to break through.