Karolina Pliskova vs Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Australian Open QF Preview

Australian Open, ?? Quarter-Final #3 match preview
(5) ?? Karolina Pliskova vs ?? Mirjana Lucic-Baroni

Karolina Pliskova will be an overwhelming favourite heading into Wednesday’s quarter-final clash with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Many viewed Pliskova as one to look out for at the majors in 2017, so far, the world number 5 has lived up to expectations, winning the title in Brisbane and now reaching her second Grand Slam quarter-final. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni is on a magical run, the last time the Croat reached this stage of a Grand Slam was all the way back in 1999, an outstanding achievement.

Karolina Pliskova has made an extremely positive start to the season, the Czech is yet to be beaten and has now won nine matches in a row. Pliskova cruised through her first two matches at Melbourne Park over Sara Sorribes Tormo and Ana Blinkova dropping a combined four games. Pliskova suffered a huge third round scare when she trailed Jelena Ostapenko 2-5 in the deciding set, Pliskova benefited from the Latvian tightening up and ultimately claimed a 4-6 6-0 10-8 win. Pliskova looked a little lethargic in her fourth round match and wasn’t at her best but was still far too good for Daria Gavrilova, brushing aside the Aussie 6-3 6-3 to advance to her second career Grand Slam quarter-final.

Heading into this year’s Australian Open, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni had not won a main draw match in Melbourne since 1998, the only previous year in which she has won a match in Melbourne. Lucic-Baroni’s biggest result of the tournament came at the second round stage where she eliminated the third seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, courtesy of a surprisingly dominant 6-3 6-2 win. Lucic-Baroni came through a couple of tight early matches both three set matches over Qiang Wang and Maria Sakkari, coming from a set down on each occasion. Mirjana secured her spot in the quarter-finals with a comfortable 6-4 6-2 win over Jennifer Brady.

 

Pliskova and Lucic-Baroni have met on five previous occasions, Pliskova holds a slight 3-2 advantage. Pliskova has won three of their four meetings on a hard court, including a 7-6 5-7 7-6 win at the Wuhan Open in 2015. The last three matches between the two have been very close, including a three set win for Lucic-Baroni at the Rogers Cup in 2015.

Clearly these two are at very different stage of their careers, and Pliskova should be winning this match. As the head-to-head record shows this is however a surprisingly close match-up. These two are both very aggressive, two of the biggest hitters on tour. In recent times Pliskova is far more consistent and has a much better serve. Pliskova should come through this match.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in 2 sets


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