Wuhan R2: (1) Simona Halep vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Top seed Simona Halep will begin her Wuhan Open campaign with a potentially dangerous second round encounter against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Simona Halep suffered a shock early round exit in Guangzhou last week, whilst Pavlyuchenkova enters this match full of confidence after demolishing Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round on Sunday. Pavlyuchenkova will be looking for her first career victory over the Romanian.
Simona Halep begun her Asian campaign last week in Guangzhou, the top seeded Romanian was expected to cruise to her fourth title of the year, However Simona stumbled in the quarter-finals with a surprise loss to Denisa Allertova in straight sets. Simona has already qualified for Singapore so she doesn’t have to worry too much over the next couple of weeks, the world number 2 will be focused on getting into the best possible shape for Singapore.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has had a disappointing season but still has a couple of weeks to salvage something from season 2015. Pavlyuchenkova made a wonderful start to her Wuhan Open campaign on Sunday, recording a crushing 6-0 6-1 victory over compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova. It was a near flawless performance from Pavlyuchenkova, who struck the ball very cleanly from the baseline, absolutely dominating her opponent.
Simona Halep holds a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record over the Russian, Pavlyuchenkova has managed to pick up just 1 set in the 5 previous meetings meeting between the pair. Their only meeting in 2015 was however quite close, Halep prevailed 7-6 6-3 at the quarter-final stage in Cincinnati. The first set was extremely tight, there were a number of exhausting rallies, it was Simona who ultimately outlasted her opponent.
Despite the lopsided head-to-head record, I think this is going to be a really close match. Pavlyuchenkova was on fire in her opening match and does have weapons to challenge the Romanian. Simona has a bit of added pressure this week, being the top seed, she hasn’t dealt well with these types of pressures. An upset is a real possibility here, but I’m still going with Halep to grind out a victory.
Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets