10th seed Dominika Cibulkova faces a familiar foe in Lucie Safarova as the pair faces off for the third time this year in the second round of the Rogers Cup, with the winner facing either Ekaterina Makarova or Johanna Konta next. This match is definitely a tight one, with Safarova looking for her third consecutive victory over the Slovak and the world number 11 looking to find her best tennis yet again.
Safarova’s recent results
After disappointingly falling in the second round of the Wimbledon Championships, Safarova took a lengthy break until the Rogers Cup and did not play any tournaments in between. Coming into Toronto, the Czech fell out of the Top 40 in the rankings due to her inactivity, and she was handed a very tough draw here. In fact, everyone in the draw has a really tricky draw due to the abundance of quality players.
Safarova first defeated home crowd favorite Francoise Abanda, who required a wildcard to enter the draw, in a late-night thriller which ended in the former Top 10 player’s favor, triumphing 6-4 6-4. This allowed her to progress to the second round to be part of this dream match-up.
Cibulkova’s recent results
Similar to Safarova, Cibulkova also took a lengthened break between Wimbledon and Toronto. The Slovakian fell out of the Top 10 after her appearance at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and narrowly missed out on a bye this week. She faced a tricky opposition in the opening round, having been drawn against the dangerous Lesia Tsurenko in the first round. Everyone played down Cibulkova’s chances before the week, but yet she managed to prove everyone wrong when she prevailed in a tight match concluded after 1 hour and 47 minutes of play.
Head to Head
Their rivalry started all the way back in 2008 when Cibulkova won the first of their nine meetings. The Slovakian prevailed in their first three meetings before Safarova had her first victory over the former Top 10 player at the Wimbledon Championships in 2014, where she eventually reached the semifinals. The pair had already met twice this year, having been part of thrillers in Miami and Birmingham. Both encounters ended in the favor of Safarova, who is still finding a way to return to the Top 10 for the first time since 2016.
Cibulkova plays an aggressive style of tennis, with the aim of dictating play throughout the match. She has to take the initiative and go on the offense as much as possible since she cannot afford to be on the defense against another hard-hitting player. Cibulkova should also try to have a high first serve percentage as Safarova is able to exploit her vulnerable second serves, and holding serve should not be much of a problem if she were to be serving consistently.
Safarova is a formidable returner and she also serves pretty well. If she were to be firing on all cylinders, the Czech’s game is absolutely dominant and invincible, able to beat all the top players of the game. The former Top 10 player’s groundstrokes are very solid, with both her backhands and forehands being able to fire winners after winners to take the upper hand in groundstroke rallies. The angles she can create on her forehand is unbelievable and is what pushed her to a Grand Slam final appearance at the Roland Garros back in 2015. Currently the world number two in doubles, Safarova could use her incredible hands at the net to earn some free points and fend off the Cibulkova offense.
Despite being lower-ranked, Safarova comes into the match-up as the slight favorite. She has won both their meetings in 2017, and Cibulkova is currently in poor form despite surviving a tough first round match against Lesia Tsurenko. If the Czech were to play her best tennis, the win should not be much of a problem.
Match Prediction: Lucie Safarova d.  Dominika Cibulkova in three sets