Right from the beginning it felt like a match that the two came out not to lose. Breaks of serve were exchanged and there was a ‘tentative’ approach from both players who are usually confident with approach but sometimes not so in their conviction.
For Pavlyuchenkova it hasn’t been a good season so far and you could see some big issues in her game from the off and throughout which Dominika Cibulkova who never turns down an invitation to be aggressive on the court saw that second serve on the deuce court a big problem as we can see below.
Image Credit – BT Sport
The backhand down the line was kind of used as a ‘get out of jail free option’ but it was lose and she couldn’t direct it from the racket head to keep inside the lines. The shot did have good movement and was flat but lacked accuracy.
2016 was Domi’s year. She played with that infectious energy and aggression which saw her reach the top ten in the world, quarter finals at Wimbledon for a first time and then at the end of the season shocked us all by winning the WTA Finals in Singapore defeating the then world number one Angie Kerber but since that week in Singapore hasn’t gone forward.
Unpredictability in tennis is a good thing however it can be a bad thing as well. You never know which Cibulkova will turn up, whether it’s the aggressive baseliner who makes life hell or the one that hits error after error.
Today’s performance was good. I did think she lacked depth off the backhand which Pavlyuchenkova took advantage of playing that mid-court forehand into the open court and is something she will have to look at improving or trying to run around and hit the forehand when she meets Caroline Garcia in round two.