Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova interview: Australian Open memories offer cause for optimism

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova arrives at the Australian Open in good spirits and looking to go on a winning run Down Under over the coming fortnight.

The Russian is seeded 23rd in Melbourne and begins her campaign today (Monday), facing Yanina Wickmayer in a tricky looking first round match-up. The pair have met twice before and split victories, with the Belgian 25-year-old coming out on top in three sets in their most recent encounter back in 2013.

Pavlyuchenkova has fond memories of Australia though, winning one of her junior titles at the venue back in 2006, and it's that coupled with her love for the fans which is spurring the 23-year-old on.

"I'm super excited to come to Australia, and always have really good memories here - especially killing it in the juniors, when I beat Caroline Wozniacki in the final back in 2006," she told GiveMeSport.

"But I also have good memories in the pros and have played some great matches here. I'm loving the country, the people and the fans here are always fantastic."

With seven WTA titles to her name, Pavlyuchenkova has shown in the past that she can beat some of the game's top players on her day. That said, two Grand Slam quarter-finals back in 2011 are the furthest she's gone in a major tournament.

In Australia, two third round appearances are her best showings, including last year, and she'd love to go even further this time around.

That said, the pragmatic right-hander is setting out to play some good tennis first-and-foremost, believing the results will come if she enjoys her game and continues to focus on a long-term goal and strategy.

Tough off-season

Having spent time both back home and in Dubai during the offseason, Pavlyuchenkova has certainly been putting in the hours on court ahead of 2015, and despite losing her first match of the year to Shuai Peng in Sydney, her focus is unquestioned.

"I'm looking forward to the Australian Open but go in with no expectations other than to just play good tennis and enjoy it. The results should follow after that," she concluded.

"Of course I'm focusing on this event and want to do well, but this time I have a long term goal and if it doesn't happen here then it could be the next one or the one after that!

"I've been working hard in the off-season, spending the first part at home and then the second part in Dubai for a few weeks training hard. I've been continuing that a bit on the road here as well, and I'm feeling mentally fresh for the season ahead."

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