After a bye for fourth seed Carla Suarez Navarro and an odd three-set win for 2010 champion Caroline Wozniacki over Belinda Bencic, Wozniacki and Suarez Navarro will meet for the sixth time. In a rematch of their quarterfinal here in Tokyo two years ago, the pair face off for a spot in the last eight at the Toray Pan Pacific Open.
How they got here
Unlike her opponent who received a bye into the second round as the fourth seed, Wozniacki was pitted against a tough first round opponent in 2015 finalist Belinda Bencic. The Dane breezed to a 6-2, 5-2 lead courtesy of some big hitting and effective serving, before some inspired play from the Swiss teenager and poor shot selection from the former world number one handed Bencic five straight games to force a deciding set 7-5.
In the third set, Wozniacki found her groove again, breaking two times on her way to a dominant 6-1 final set, winning through to the second round here in the Japanese capital 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 backed by an impressive 10 aces throughout the match.
Wozniacki and Suarez Navarro first played one another ten years ago at a small clay court event in Civitavecchia, Italy, where the Dane won 6-4, 6-3. The pair then didn't meet for seven years until 2013, where Suarez Navarro got the better of Wozniacki 7-6, 6-1 on the indoor clay courts of Stuttgart.
Here in Tokyo two years ago, the two-time US Open finalist eased past the Spaniard, claiming a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 victory in the Japanese capital to reach the last four. A week later in 2014, Wozniacki again got the better of the world number eight, battling past Suarez Navarro in Wuhan in a tight 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 affair in the Chinese city.
Most recently, Wozniacki and Suarez Navarro met again on the indoor clay of Stuttgart, with this time the world number 28 powering past the fourth seed 6-0, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
Despite Suarez Navarro having enjoyed a far better 12 months than Wozniacki, who's struggled with injury, the Dane has to be the favorite considering her recent run to the semifinals at the US Open. The Danish former world number one looked impressive throughout her victory over Swiss star Belinda Bencic, and with her improved serving spurred on by the fast pace of the courts here in Tokyo, Wozniacki should be able to overpower Suarez Navarro.
For Suarez Navarro, the Spaniard will need to try and dictate play with her solid one-handed backhand, but her lack of power on the serve and forehand side will make it difficult to push the world number 28 around. Overall, if Wozniacki can maintain the strong level she showed against Bencic, the 2010 champion should book a safe passage into the quarterfinals here in Tokyo.
Prediction: Wozniacki in straight sets