Ajla Tomljanovic vs Daniela Hantuchova
Sunday’s Pattaya City final promises to be a beauty, as two ladies at very different stages of their careers both desperately compete for an elusive title. This may be the last chance for two time former champion Daniela Hantuchova to win a title whilst Ajla Tomljanovic will be aiming to capture her first WTA title in what will be her first tour level final.
Ajla Tomljanovic reached her first tour level final with a gruelling 7-6 5-7 7-6 victory over a Monica Puig. Tomljanovic looked to be in complete control of the match midway through the second set when she led by a set and break and had a chance to go up a double break. Ajla was cool under pressure and never once showed any negative body language.
However the match quickly changed, Puig saved a break point serving at 2-4 before breaking Ajla’s serve to keep the match alive. Puig stunned Ajla, raising her level just when it looked like she had nothing left to give. Ajla didn’t respond in time and Puig sent the match to a decider.
The deciding set was a tight affair. Tomljanovic led for the majority of the set but failed to serve out the match at 5-4. Ajla would once again serve for the match at 6-5 but again she couldn’t do it, Puig breaking to force a third set tiebreaker. Ajla should have closed out the match at 6-4 in the tiebreaker but sent a forehand long. Despite all the squandered opportunities Ajla never lost her cool, finally closing out the match on her fourth match point.
Daniela Hantuchova was also forced to work extremely hard for her semifinal victory in Pattaya. The Slovak battled past Marina Erakovic 4-6 6-3 7-6 to give herself a chance to capture her third title in Pattaya. Daniela struggled in her return games during the opening set, winning just four points for the entire set. However Dani managed to turn things around in the second set, breaking multiple times to force the match to a decider.
The third set was exhausting. It was Hantuchova who secured the early break and it looked like she would run away with the match. However Erakovic raised her level and started playing some outrageous shots to bring up a 5-3 lead. Erakovic failed to serve out the match before Hantuchova saved two match points to level the set at 5-5. At 6-5 it was Hantuchova’s turn to serve for the match but she also failed to do so as the third set went to a tiebreaker.
Dani was far better in the tiebreaker, as experience eventually prevailed. Daniela reaching her first final since Birmingham 2013.
The head to head record between these two is split at 1-1. Tomljanovic prevailed in their most recent encounter, a 6-4 7-5 victory in Sydney last year. Hantuchova’s victory came way back in 2011, a 6-0 2-6 6-4 victory in Quebec City.
This is a massive opportunity for both ladies. Finals have been few and far between for Daniela over the past few seasons, this may well be her last chance to win a title. Tomljanovic on the other hand will be aiming to win her first career title. Since moving to Australia, Tomljanovic has continued to improve, a title in Pattaya would be a big step in the right direction for the youngster.
This match is extremely tough to call, I’m going to side with Ajla. The youngster has more power in her game, her groundstrokes are bigger and her serve is bigger. If Ajla keeps her nerve she should be able to overpower Daniela.
Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Daniela Hantuchova in 3 sets