In a must-watch encounter between two former top-20 players, the in-form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova faces off against Alize Cornet in the first round of the Wuhan Open, with both players looking to mount a good run and strive for a good end to the season. The winner of this match does not have an easy task in the following round, with the winner having to face the sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round.
Pavlyuchenkova’s recent results
Pavlyuchenkova has had a solid season thus far, marking quarterfinal appearances in Sydney, Melbourne, and Indian Wells before winning titles in Monterrey and Rabat. The Russian also earned eight top-20 wins this year, showing how dangerous she is to the top players.
Coming off a disappointing first-round exit at the US Open which saw her fall to Christina McHale in three sets, Pavlyuchenkova unexpectedly stormed back to shockingly reach the final at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, defeating many quality opponents along the way.
Recovering from a set down to defeat Catherine Bellis in the opening round, Pavlyuchenkova defeated Wang Qiang before mounting a huge comeback against Barbora Strycova to triumph in three sets. Pavlyuchenkova then recorded her fourth consecutive three-set win, this time over former world number one Angelique Kerber as she came from 0-3 down in the final set to triumph in the hustle, reaching her third final of the year. However, she fell to Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets, despite putting up a tough fight in the second set.
Cornet’s recent results
Despite a bright start to the season which saw Cornet storm to the final of the Brisbane International as an unseeded player and defeat two top-10 players along the way, the Frenchwoman has only been able to make two quarterfinal appearances from then onwards. Cornet had an early exit at the US Open, losing 1-6, 2-6 to eventual quarterfinalist Petra Kvitova in the second round.
Her start to the Asian Swing has not been the greatest of all, falling in the quarterfinals of the Guangzhou International Women’s Open. Ousting Bernarda Pera and Danka Kovinic both in three sets, Cornet fell comprehensively to Yanina Wickmayer in the last eight having been troubled by a lower back injury throughout the whole tournament.
Pavlyuchenkova leads their one-sided head-to-head 5-0 having defeated the Frenchwoman on all three surfaces. Their most recent meeting came at the 2017 Rogers Cup, where the Russian triumphed in straight sets with a dominative scoreline of 6-0, 6-1.
The Frenchwoman adopts a playing style which could frustrate Pavlyuchenkova massively if she were to be firing on all cylinders. Cornet loves to absorb the power on the groundstrokes of her opponents, most particularly the hard-hitting ones, and turn defense into offense.
Once defeating Serena Williams thrice in one year back in 2014, Cornet’s return of service is also excellent with the help of her impressive forehands. Looking for a first win over the Russian, the former Top 20 player has to rely on her crafty shots, mixing up play with her deadly slices and drop shots.
Pavlyuchenkova has to dictate play against the less-powerful Cornet and take control of all the rallies. The Russian, who reached the final at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, is looking to ride on her momentum and continuing to maintain the high level of play which she displayed in Tokyo.
Her biggest powers are her powerful groundstrokes which could be inconsistent at times, but as long as she remains focused, it could be a weapon instead of a burden. Possessing a decent serve, Pavlyuchenkova could open up the courts with her well-placed deliveries but she must attempt for a higher first serve percentage to prevent double-faults from proving costly.
Pavlyuchenkova is the favorite in this match and she certainly deserves to be so. On paper, she is the higher-ranked player while on the court, she has beaten Cornet five consecutive times. Furthermore, with Cornet potentially troubled by a lower back injury suffered in Guangzhou, the Russian is tipped to continue her impressive run in Wuhan.
Having experienced a great run in Tokyo last week, the Russian has the momentum on her side while Cornet comes into Wuhan with some disappointing results. Their last meeting was also a one-sided affair and with the conditions suiting Pavlyuchenkova, a similar result could occur once more.
Match Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Alize Cornet in straight sets