Sam Stosur struggled in a first-round loss to Anastasia Sevastova in Stuttgart; Getty Images

Pavlyuchenkova again stops Sam in Rome

ROME, AP –┬áSam Stosur has been sent out in the opening round of the Rome WTA tournament, losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

It is the second time in three years that Stosur has fallen to the Russian at this stage in Rome.

The big-hitting Pavlyuchenkova defeated Stosur 6-4 6-7(5) 6-1 in a see-sawing battle that lasted over two-and-a-half hours.

The loss is a blow to Stosur who would have been hoping for more court time in the lead-up to the French Open in Paris, in just under two weeks.

At the end of the second set, Stosur had all the momentum after reeling off the last three points of the tiebreak with some big forehand winners.

Pavyluchenkova looked despondent at the end of the set but she held serve early, then immediately broke Stosur with a fine display of power-hitting before rolling through the final set.