(11) Dominika Cibulkova vs Victoria Azarenka
Two-time former champion: Victoria Azarenka faces 2014 finalist, Dominika Cibulkova in a blockbuster fourth round matchup on Monday at Melbourne Park. Both Domi and Vika arrived in Melbourne without any momentum, both seemingly vulnerable to an early round exit. However both ladies have been extremely impressive thus far, coming through their opening three matches relatively comfortably.
After an opening round scare against Kirsten Flipkens, Domi rebounded strongly with two impressive straight set victories over Tsvetana Pironkova and Alize Cornet.
Domi’s 6-2 6-0 victory over Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round was one of the Slovakians best performances for quite some time. Domi backed up that victory with a solid 7-5 6-2 victory over Alize Cornet. Alize served for the opening set and had set point on her serve, Domi certainly fought hard to get the job done in straight sets.
Vika Azarenka has had a very welcome return to form this week at her beloved Melbourne Park. Despite having arguably the toughest draw of any of the remaining women, Vika has been relatively untroubled in her opening three matches.
Vika’s best performance of the tournament thus far came in the second round where she comprehensively outplayed one of the pre-tournament favourites, Caroline Wozniacki. Azarenka dictated play from the centre of the court, playing close to the level that saw her dominate the tour in early 2012.
In the third round Vika was forced to win ugly against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, prevailing 6-4 6-4. Azarenka hit just 1 winner in the opening set yet somehow managed to take a one set lead. Vika’s level improved in the second set but she did struggle to close out the match against the awkward Czech.
Victoria Azarenka has a commanding 7-2 head to head record over Dominika Cibulkova. However it was the Slovakian who emerged victorious in their most recent encounter. Domi stunned Vika at Roland Garros in 2012, coming out on top 6-2 7-6 to hand Vika her first loss of the season.
This is an extremely difficult match to call, I’m leaning towards Domi. Vika has done extremely well to get to this stage but I think this is a matchup that she won’t enjoy. Domi is playing with a lot of confidence at the moment and I think she will take more risks in this match, hitting enough winners to advance to the Quarter-finals.
Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Victoria Azarenka in three sets