Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Dominika Cibulkova have had complete opposite seasons this year. The Russian holds 30 wins in 2017 whereas the Slovak is just shy of 20. Pavlyuchenkova’s form this year brought her titles in Monterrey and Rabat, and she is looking for a third. However, a feisty, tricky powerhouse in Cibulkova stands between her and the semifinals.
So far this week, Pavlyuchenkova has showed signs of brilliance, yet other times she has looked sluggish and sloppy. After tough wins over McHale and Suarez Navarro, the tempo will be completely changed in her quarterfinal match against a harder hitting opponent with more tenacity and aggression.
Last year’s WTA Finals champion may have suffered losses to Lottner and Jabeur this year, but her level has slowly risen on the hard courts this fall. A second win over Alizé Cornet in two weeks and a good showing against Johanna Konta hints towards somewhat of a confidence booster for the struggling Slovak.
The pair have played on eight previous occasions with their most recent matchup dating back to March of this year in the desert. Pavlyuchenkova took the match in three sets, but Cibulkova owns the head-to-head with a 5-3 lead. Their matches never seem to disappoint as six of their eight matches have gone the distance.
The Russian and sixth seed ultimately controls the destiny of the match. If she can step up inside the court and take the ball early, Cibulkova will struggle to dictate play. Pavlyuchenkova needs her net game to be less sporadic, so she can finish the point off early on. Cibulkova will do everything she can to lengthen the rallies to break down the Russian’s hit-or-miss groundstrokes. Both players find themselves a little streaky on the serve, but I see Pavlyuchenkova being the one to hit her targets more cleanly in this match.
Prediction: Pavlyuchenkova in three.