Two unseeded but talented players will face off in the opening round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova goes up against youngster Catherine Bellis at the Ariake Forest Park. With five top-10 players participating in Tokyo, the field is packed and the draw is full of blockbuster matches, with this not being an exception.
Pavlyuchenkova’s recent results
The Russian’s biggest problem which bothered her throughout her career has been her consistency, which also hindered her from making into the Top 10. Pavlyuchenkova only managed to reach two quarterfinals throughout the whole US Open Series, falling to lower-ranked players on three occasions.
Her recent wins include triumphs over Alize Cornet, claiming a straightforward victory where she lost just one game in the process and her impressive win over Carla Suarez Navarro in a high-quality affair which ended in straight sets. However, her US Open campaign ended on the worst possible note when she fell in three sets to Christina McHale, failing to capitalize on her opportunities as she was unable to carve a deep run.
Bellis’ recent results
After an impressive start to the US Open Series for Bellis, it all just went wrong for the teenage sensation. Reaching the semifinals at the Bank of the West Classic, earning a comfortable victory over Petra Kvitova in the process, it seemed like she was on fire. However, she went on a three-match losing streak starting in the third round of the Rogers Cup, extending to the US Open where she fell to Nao Hibino in front of her home crowd. Her losses came against Caroline Garcia, Alize Cornet and then Hibino, against whom she served for the match but was unable to convert her chances.
Both players are relatively offensive but it is Pavlyuchenkova who is generally the more aggressive on the court. The Russian has to be really patient when facing a player like Bellis, who could retrieve possibly any ball that landed on her side.
The American’s well-controlled aggression is the biggest weapon of her game, but she has to prevent Pavlyuchenkova from dictating play throughout the match.
When it comes to serving, Pavlyuchenkova obviously has the edge with her precision and power, while Bellis is more consistent but lacks the aggression. The world number 23 has to ensure that she goes for a high first-serve percentage as her second serves are usually in a danger zone, which could go all wrong if she were to have a bad day. Bellis also needs to aim to send more first serves in as Pavlyuchenkova would be able to pounce on those vulnerable second serves.
Pavlyuchenkova and Bellis are all excellent "drop-shotters" with some great hands at the net, but the Russian would not want to bring the American into the net as Bellis has some excellent movements around the court.
Pavlyuchenkova comes into the match as the slight favorite but Bellis will look to overcome the odds and cause the upset in this opening round encounter. Both players are in poor form and the win could be able to trigger the confidence in either of them. Although the American, who is on a three-match losing streak with her last win coming against Svetlana Kuznetsova in Toronto, will cause some troubles for the Russian, Pavlyuchenkova should just be able to get through this tough opener.
Match Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Catherine Bellis in three sets