Sydney R2: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs (5) Karolina Pliskova
2015 APIA International runner-up Karolina Pliskova will be aiming to go one step further in 2016. The Czech rising-star made a very promising start to her Sydney campaign on Sunday where she eliminated Ana Ivanovic in straight sets. Karolina will face a tough second round opponent on Tuesday when she comes up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has made a solid start to the season. The Russian advanced to the quarter-final stage in Brisbane last week where she picked up victories over Timea Bacsinszky and Alize Cornet before succumbing to Angelique Kerber in straight sets. Pavlyuchenkova advanced through to the second round in Sydney courtesy of a 6-1 7-6 victory over Lara Arruabarrena on Monday.
The pressure is on Karolina Pliskova in 2016 to back-up her breakthrough 2015 season, many have notably failed to do so in the past couple of years. It all begins in Sydney for Karolina, the first tournament where she has a significant amount of points to defend after reaching the final last year.
Karolina made an average start to the season at the Hopman Cup last week where she recorded victories over Jarmila Wolfe and Victoria Duval but lost to Elina Svitolina. Karolina really stepped up her level for her opening round match in Sydney on Sunday where she recorded an impressive 6-4 6-2 victory over Ana Ivanovic, her third victory in a row over the Serb. Pliskova did everything well in that match and was far too good for Ivanovic.
Karolina has won both of her previous encounters against Anastasia, quite comfortably on both occasions. Both victories took place in 2015 and on a hard court, first in Doha where Karolina won 6-2 6-4 and then in Prague for the Fed Cup final where Karolina won 6-3 6-4. This is clearly a good match-up for Karolina who is able to break serve easier than her opponent given her ability to really attack Anastasia’s vulnerable second serve. Karolina was very impressive in her first round match and I think she will be good enough to record another win here.