Tokyo R2: (6) Carla Suarez Navarro vs Dominika Cibulkova
Both Carla Suarez Navarro and Dominika Cibulkova have struggled at various stages throughout season 2015, for different reasons. The Spaniard made a positive start to the year but arrived in Tokyo on the back of eight straight defeats. Dominika Cibulkova spent the majority of the year on the sidelines but now seems to be back to her best and ready to finish the year off on a high.
Carla Suarez Navarro advanced to the second round in Tokyo with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Kateryna Bondarenko, snapping s string of eight consecutive losses prior to the event. It wasn’t a pretty match, Carla squandered 6 set points on her own serve in the first set before finally closing it out in the tiebreaker. After a strong start to the year, Carla was in a prime position to reach the WTA Finals for the first time in her career, however the Spaniard now finds herself in 8th place on the Road to Singapore and will need to dramatically improve her recent form if she is to qualify for Singapore.
Dominika has much different motivators over the next couple of weeks, the Slovakian is not in contention for Singapore but will be looking to end a frustrating season on a high and improve her ranking as much as possible ahead of season 2016. Cibulkova advanced to the second round in Tokyo courtesy of a first round victory over an injured Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
Cibulkova has a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Carla. Domi thumped Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-0 at the Australian Open last year and recorded a 7-5 6-4 win over the Spaniard in Sofia later on in the year. I expect Cibulkova to continue her unbeaten record against Carla on Thursday. The Spaniard is clearly deprived of confidence at the moment and will struggle to keep up with the Slovakian’s high intensity game.
Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 2 sets