Dominika Cibulkova targets a third straight win over the in-form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova when they clash in the second round of the Qatar Total Open on Wednesday in rainy Doha.
Watch and bet on Cibulkova vs Pavlyuchenkova live from Doha at bet365 > sports > live streaming tennis. Their second round contest begins around 3.30pm local time on Wednesday (12.30pm GMT).
A quarter-final spot is on the line in the prestigious WTA Premier event in Doha when third seed Dominika Cibulkova squares off against recent Australian Open quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Rain has wreaked havoc upon tournament organisers at the Qatar Total Open so far this week, and the extended forecast is predicting persistent rain until the weekend, meaning players will be in for some long and frustrating waits throughout the course of the next few days in Doha.
Pavlyuchenkova was the only player to complete a match in the Qatari capital on Tuesday, with the big-hitting Russian knocking off qualifier and former World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 6-1 6-4 to breeze into the second round.
Coming into this tournament after back-to-back quarter-final appearances at Sydney and Rotterdam - where she beat top 10 player Svetlana Kuznetsova in both - Pavlyuchenkova was relieved to beat the stormy weather and avoid joining the cluster of players who will be forced to play two matches in one day on Wednesday - weather permitting.
"It was quite a long day, but I'll take it," the Russian said after the match. "I'm happy to be one of the first ones done today, and it's a nice present for myself, as well."
"I haven't such a good start to a season before, but it's exciting, and I'm just trying to take it tournament by tournament."
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Photo by GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
Having finished the last four seasons ranked between 25 and 28 in the rankings, Pavlyuchenkova is targeting a more polished and consistent 2017, and she’s certainly began on the right track. The 25-year-old’s best period of 2016 came in July, where she reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals (her first slam QF in four years) and the last eight in Montreal. With another quarter-final at the Australian Open to begin the season, Pavlyuchenkova can make further strides in Doha this week with an upset of World No. 5 Dominika Cibulkova.
Live Stream: Qatar Total Open tennis live from Doha
It hasn’t been the best start to the season for the powerful Slovakian. Cibulkova won just one match each at Brisbane and Sydney before going down to Ekaterina Makarova in the third round of the Australian Open - where she was a former finalist and aiming for similar success following her superb title triumph at the season-ending WTA Finals Singapore last year.
Cibulkova was looking strong at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy a couple of weeks ago, registering comprehensive straight sets wins over Donna Vekic and Elena Vesnina to surge into the semi-finals. However she was met with a tougher-than-expected challenge from the feisty Yulia Putintseva, and despite claiming the opening set, Cibulkova couldn’t fight her way past the Kazakh, going down in three.
So many times we see a player struggle to back up career-best seasons, so this is an extremely important tournament for Cibulkova and her confidence heading into significant events coming up at Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami.
Playing the best tennis of her career in 2016, Cibulkova posted two wins over Pavlyuchenkova at Madrid - where she was an eventual finalist - and Linz, where she was the eventual champion. It’s taken Cibulkova at her best to upstage Pavlyuchenkova, but the tables have turned in a stormy Doha this week, with the Russian in great form and Cibulkova below her best. With both looking to play first-strike tennis, I’d give the edge to the form player in Pavlyuchenkova this time around.