(1) Serena Williams vs (11) Dominika Cibulkova
In Wednesday’s first quarter-final at Melbourne Park, a determined Serena Williams takes on the feisty Slovakian, Dominika Cibulkova. This promises to be a fiery encounter between two competitors that refuse to take a backwards step.
Both Serena and Domi enter this match on the back of impressive fourth round victories.
Dominika Cibulkova was particularly impressive. The Slovakian pocket rocket produced one of the best performances of the tournament to defeat two-time former champion, Victoria Azarenka 6-2 3-6 6-3.
Domi’s ball striking was simply jaw dropping. The Slovakian blasted Vika off the court in the opening set, blasting winners from all parts of the court. Vika lifted in the second set to send the match to a decider, however Domi would once again raise her level.
The Slovakian played scintillating tennis in the decider to come from a break down to send the former champion packing. Domi once again started to hit winners from everywhere, there was nothing Vika could do to stop her.
If Domi produces a similar performance on Wednesday afternoon, a first career victory over Serena Williams is a distinct possibility.
Serena Williams produced her best performance of the tournament thus far in the fourth round. The world number 1 came from a set down to defeat Garbine Muguruza 2-6 6-3 6-2.
The match started off in a similar fashion to their Roland Garros clash last year where Garbine shocked the defending champion. Garbine dictated play from the baseline, troubling Serena with her strong, deep groundstrokes. Garbine steamrolling through the first set, taking it 6-2.
Serena rebounded strongly, raising her intensity and aggression as she desperately tried to avoid another early exit in Melbourne. The critical moment in the match came early in the third set. Serena saved six break points in one epic game to seemingly break the resistance of the Spaniard, who was broken in the very next game. Serena comfortably closed out the match to advance to quarter-finals.
Serena has a perfect 4-0 head to head record over Dominika. Their last meeting took place just over a year ago in Brisbane, Serena prevailing 6-3 6-3. Domi has come close to beating Serena before, at the 2013 Sony Open in Miami. Serena was forced to come from a set down to prevail 2-6 6-4 6-2.
I really believe Domi is capable of causing an upset here. Domi was so impressive in her fourth round victory over Azarenka, one of the best performances I have seen all week, perhaps all year. Whilst Serena still looks vulnerable, her serve hasn’t been the invincible weapon that it usually is. Domi is one of the best returners in the game and will certainly pounce if Serena’s serve is off.
Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Serena Williams in three sets