Sydney R1: (7) Carla Suarez Navarro vs Sara Errani
A tough opening round match-up at the APIA International in Sydney sees the seventh seeded Carla Suarez Navarro come up against Sara Errani. This is a really tough match-up given these are two of the best defensive players on the tour, both are great movers and give very little away in terms of unforced errors. This promises to be a long battle, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this one.
Carla Suarez Navarro made a very positive start to the year in Brisbane last week, reaching the semi-final stage for the first time in her career. The Spaniard started with a convincing straight set victory over Ajla Tomljanovic before recording back-to-back hard-fought victories over Sam Stosur and Varvara Lepchenko. Carla faulted at the semi-final stage where she suffered a 2-6 3-6 loss to Angelique Kerber. Carla seemed to struggle physically in that match after a couple of tough matches in a row and a short turnaround.
Sara Errani’s start to the season was in complete contrast to Carla’s. The Italian suffered a crushing 1-6 2-6 loss to Belinda Bencic in the first round at the Brisbane International last week. Errani will be hoping for a better week in Sydney at a tournament where she has reached the quarter-final stage on multiple occasions. However it is going to be tough for Sara against Carla, but the Italian will be for the challenge and comes into this clash with a great recent record against Carla.
Sara Errani holds a 7-3 head-to-head record over Carla Suarez Navarro. The Italian has actually won 6 of her last 7 matches over the Spaniard, but the majority of those victories have been on clay (5 of them). Their last completed match took place at Roland Garros in 2013 where Sara recorded a hard-fought 5-7 6-4 6-3 victory in the fourth round.
Carla clearly has the better form heading into this match but Errani has a very good record against the Spaniard. I think Sara can actually cause an upset in this one. The conditions in Sydney are really tough and can play a major factor. These two are so evenly matched, that the difference could be who is better able to deal with the humid conditions. I suspect that will be Errani, Carla can struggle in situations like this, the Italian will eventually ware her down.