?? Australian Open, QF preview + prediction:
?? (30) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. ?? Garbine Muguruza
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Garbine Muguruza will go head-to-head with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs at the 2020 Australian Open. Not many would have expected Pavlyuchenkova or Muguruza to be featuring at this stage of the tournament, but both have been playing exceptional tennis and will head into this quarter-final clash full of confidence. Who will emerge victorious?
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will be competing at the quarter-final stage in Melbourne for the second consecutive year and for the third time out of the last 4 years. This will be Pavlyuchenkova’s 6th quarter-final appearance at a Grand Slam but the Russian has never made it to the semi-finals of a major, perhaps it will be 6th time lucky?
Pavlyuchenkova moved through the first week of the event without dropping a set. The 30th seed started the event with a 6/1 7/5 win over Nina Stojanovic before battling past Taylor Townsend 7/5 7/6. Pavlyuchenkova made her biggest move at the third round stage where she eliminated the second seeded Karolina Pliskova thanks to a 7/6 7/6 triumph. The Russian booked her spot in the final 8 with a hard-fought 6/7 7/6 6/2 win over the 17th seeded Angelique Kerber.
Garbine Muguruza is playing the best tennis she has played in years to reach the final 8 at Melbourne Park for the second time in her career. The 2-time former Grand Slam champion was rusty in her first couple of matches of the event, requiring 3 sets on both occasions, a 0/6 6/1 6/0 win over Shelby Rogers followed by a 6/3 3/6 6/3 win over Ajla Tomljanovic. Muguruza seriously picked up her level to advance to the final 8 with back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents, a 6/1 6/2 smashing of the 5th seeded Elina Svitolina before beating the 9th seeded Kiki Bertens 6/3 6/3. Muguruza’s level over the last few matches has been reminiscent of the form that saw her become a major champion.
Muguruza has won both of the completed matches between the pair, both in straight sets. A 7/5 6/1 win in Cincinnati in 2016 followed by a 6/1 6/2 in Birmingham in 2018. Expect Pavlyuchenkova to be far more competitive on this occasion.
I’m going to go for the upset here and side with Pavlyuchenkova. This is a tough match to call, both players head into this clash in great form and both play a very similar game. Pavlyuchenkova and Muguruza both command the court with their strong groundstrokes, both are efficient at moving up the court to finish points. It will come down to who can execute better on the day, I believe it is time for Pavlyuchenkova to take the next step, with Muguruza’s ex-coach by her side I think an in-form Pavlyuchenkova will come up with a plan to undo the Spaniard.