Qatar Total Open, Doha R1 Preview + prediction:
🇷🇺 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. 🇰🇿 Yulia Putintseva
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Yulia Putintseva will go head-to-head for the first time in over 3 years when they meet at the opening round stage of the 2020 Qatar Total Open. It is Pavlyuchenkova who will head into this clash as the strong favourite. Pavlyuchenkova has made a stronger start to the season, the Russian notably reached the final 8 at the Australian Open and has also won the only 2 previous meetings between the pair.
Pavlyuchenkova arrives in Doha fresh from a second round exit in Dubai. Pavlyuchenkova made a miracle comeback in her opening round match, the Russian dropped the first 19 points to Belinda Bencic but flipped the script to claim a memorable 1-6 6-1 6-1 victory over the fourth seed. Unfortunately, Pavlyuchenkova was unable to keep her run going in Dubai, beaten by Anett Kontaveit 6-7 5-7 despite being up a break of serve in each set.
Yulia Putintseva had made a decent start to her 2020 campaign. Putintseva claimed a few good wins at the Australian Open over Su-Wei Hsieh and Danielle Collins before succumbing to Simona Halep in straight sets. Putintseva arrives in Doha fresh from a week off after her disappointing opening round exit in St. Petersburg to Veronika Kudermetova in 3 sets.
Pavlyuchenkova holds a perfect 2-0 record over Putintseva. Both of the previous matches between the two took place in 2016, a 7-5 6-1 victory for Pavlyuchenkova at Wimbledon followed by a 6-4 1-6 7-5 win at the Rogers Cup.
I’m going to side pretty confidently with Pavlyuchenkova. It is Pavlyuchenkova who has made the brighter start to the year and who is favoured by the conditions and match-up. Pavlyuchenkova is more dangerous on a hard court and should be too powerful for Putintseva. Pavlyuchenkova’s strong baseline game will cause Putintseva all types of problems, especially the Russian’s aggressive return of serve which will expose Putintseva’s weak serve. Once Pavlyuchenkova gets in a big first strike it will be hard for Putintseva to recover in the rally on this surface. Pavlyuchenkova should win this easily.