Dubai R1: Daria Gavrilova vs Ana Ivanovic
The pick of the first round matches at the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is a blockbuster encounter between Daria Gavrilova and Ana Ivanovic. The two have made completely contrasting starts to the season, Gavrilova had an outstanding Australian summer whilst Ana Ivanovic was one of the biggest disappointments. Gavrilova won an epic in their only previous encounter in Rome last year and looks like having a good chance of maintaining a perfect record against Ivanovic with a win in Dubai.
Daria Gavrilova made a brilliant start to the season, making a huge impact in her first Australian Open campaign representing Australia. Daria helped guide Australia to Hopman Cup glory before going on a strong run to the fourth round at the Australian Open. The tournament did ultimately end in disappointment when Daria lost her cool and let a large lead slip against Carla Suarez Navarro, overall it was still a great tournament for Gavrilova. The Australian seems to thrive on the big stage and will enjoy another shot at Ana Ivanovic.
Ana Ivanovic rebounded well from a poor Australian Open campaign with a decent week in St. Petersburg last week where she reached the semi-final stage. The Serb recorded straight set wins over Margarita Gasparyan and Kateryna Kozlova but was largely outplayed by Roberta Vinci in her straight set semi-final loss to the Italian. Ivanovic will be hoping for another good week in Dubai and will be desperate to avoid a first round exit and another loss to the young Australian.
The only previous encounter between the pair took place on clay in Rome last year, it was Gavrilova who recorded a memorable 5-7 7-6 7-6 victory. This will be a totally different clash on a totally different surface, it will be interesting to see who the quicker courts in Dubai will favour in this match-up.
I think this is a good match-up for Gavrilova and a pretty bad match-up for Ivanovic. Gavrilova is one of the best movers and defenders on the tour and Ivanovic can often struggle against these types of opponents (just look at her record against Agnieszka Radwanska). Gavrilova will enter this match full of confidence after her strong Australian summer campaign and also knowing that she has what it takes to beat Ivanovic after her victory over the Serb last year. I still don’t think Ivanovic is playing at a level high enough to beat a player like Gavrilova. The Serb will have to produce her best performance of the season thus far if she is to win this match.