Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alizé Cornet both beat higher ranked opposition on day 1 of the Brisbane International to set up a second round tie for Tuesday, second up on show court 1. Pavs delivered the best performance on Sunday, overwhelming the number five seed, Timea Bacsinszky, 6-2 6-1. Peak Pavs was definitely in the house and it was somewhat reminiscent of her thrashing of Svetlana Kuznetsova in Wuhan last year where she was completely on song.
Pavlyuchenkova was dynamic throughout, displaying first-strike tennis and keeping Bacsinszky pinned behind the baseline. While the result may not have been a surprise considering Bacsinszky did end 2015 with a knee injury and Pavlyuchenkova’s credentials, the scoreline was perhaps a little surprising. Bacsinszky looked a step slow on the defence and was reportedly seen crying after the match :-(.
In a first career match-up, Cornet produced an efficient display to overcome Kristina Mladenovic, 6-3 6-4. Cornet dropped just six points on her first serve against a lacklustre Mladenovic, who had invested heavily into the IPTL during the off-season. It was a promising win for Cornet, who had an all-round disappointing 2015 campaign.
Head-to-head record: Pavlyuchenkova leads Cornet, 4-0, winning matches on grass, clay and hard courts. Cornet has won just one set in four matches against Pavs with their most recent match taking place in Sofia; Pavs prevailed, 6-2 6-2.
Interesting stat: Cornet only beat two players ranked higher than Kristina Mladenovic during the entire 2015 season: Carla Suárez Navarro and Simona Halep.
Analysis: The head-to-head is hugely in favour of Pavs and she always performs strongly in Brisbane, having reached the final in 2013 and the semi-finals in 2011. Cornet struggled to back up first round wins in 2015 so it will be interesting to see how she approaches this match. While it is unlikely that Pavlyuchenkova will be able to produce the consistently high level she did against Bacsinszky, the Russian player will still be the clear favourite to prevail.
Prediction: Pavlyuchenkova d. Cornet in 2 sets