In her first match as World No.1, Karolina Pliskova faces a tough test against World No.19 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Is an upset on the cards, or will the Czech cruise through this smoothly?
(1) Karolina Pliskova [No.1]
Route to this stage
How will Karolina Pliskova deal with the added expectations and pressure upon her return to action at the Rogers Cup in Toronto this week? Pliskova isn’t a player to show her frustration and stress on court but you never know as the pressure got to previous No.1 Angelique Kerber as well. However, this was the time that Pliskova started her meteoric rise up the rankings where she won the title in Cinccinati and reached the final of the US Open. If she is to stay at the top of the rankings Pliskova will have to do well in the next few weeks. Pliskova has been pretty consistent on the tour this year, claiming titles in Brisbane and Doha and reaching semifinals in Indian Wells, Miami and Roland Garros. A loss to Magdalena Rybarikova in round 2 of Wimbledon was dispiriting but it was admittedly a tough draw. It’s another difficult draw for the Czech this time round as she is playing a player who missed out on a seed by one spot, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
In case you missed it, this is actually not Pliskova’s first match since No.1 as she is playing doubles with Eugenie Bouchard which is a weird pairing to be honest! They beat Dominika Cibulkova and Kirsten Flipkens in round 1.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [No.19]
Route to this stage
R1: d. Alize Cornet, 6-0 6-1
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has had a solid season in 2017 and she was actually just one spot away from notching a seeding! After reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, she captured titles in Monterrey and Rabat but is missing a deep run at a big event this year. Will that big result come in the Rogers Cup? Pavlyuchenkova has started off her US hard court swing decently, notching a win over Alison Riske in Stanford before falling to eventual finalist CoCo Vandeweghe. Pavlyuchenkova’s Rogers Cup campaign has started off really strongly, almost double-bagelling Alize Cornet in the first round.
Head to head: Pliskova leads the head to head 4-0. Pavlyuchenkova has never won more than seven games in a match against the Czech.
Stat: Pavlyuchenkova won 62% of service points and 74%(!) of return points against Cornet. She also saved four out of five break points in that contest. It will be difficult but Pavlyuchenkova will need to produce numbers like that if she is to win against Pliskova.
Thoughts: Pavlyuchenkova needs to produce a stunning performance on both serve and return as Pliskova’s blistering serve and groundstrokes will be ready to stun her opponents. Both players have similar gamestyles, but Pliskova has the slight edge in the serve, forehand and net game. I expect a slow start from Pliskova but like their previous matches, it should end in a two tight setter favouring the World No.1.