World number 32 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will be up against the 38th-ranked Shuai Zhang in the first round of the 2020 Italian Open on Monday, September 14. The match will be played at around 11 am local time (10 am BST). Get the live streaming options of this Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Shuai Zhang match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Shuai Zhang Head to Head
This will be the first ever match between Pavlyuchenkova and Zhang.
Pavlyuchenkova’s Played Just One Match Since Resumption
A 12-time WTA title winner, Pavlyuchenkova opted not to travel to the USA and has played just one tournament since the sport resumed in August. In that competition, at the Prague Open, Pavlyuchenkova lost in the first round to Arantxa Rus, 7-5, 6-2 and hasn’t featured since.
Clay might not be Pavlyuchenkova’s most preferred surface but she has won three titles on it at the WTA level, including her latest one in 2018 at Strasbourg. Last year, however, the Russian struggled on the red dirt.
After managing a first round victory at the Stuttgart Open, she was sent on a four-match losing streak, losing to Anett Kontaveit, Jelena Ostapenko, Maria Sakkari and Mandy Minella in the next four matches. True, three of those four were tough opponents but Pavlyuchenkova would have liked to do better.
Pavlyuchenkova’s best showing at the Italian Open has been a third round appearance in 2017 but since then has been knocked out in openers here. Even a small matter of progressing to the second round would help her garner some ranking points here.
Zhang Had a Good Pre-Pandemic Season
After a second round exit at the Shenzhen Open, Zhang went on to make it to the final of the Hobart International, her career’s third title-decider match. She lost to Elena Rybakina but did enter the third round at the Australian Open too before the eventual champion Sofia Kenin got the better of her.
She would have expected to do better than she did in Dubai and Doha but then followed it up with a couple of wins at the Fed Cup. Unfortunately for her, the season ended there and since resumption, Zhang has played and lost two matches.
Those came in the Cincinnati Open and US Open, which means her trip to the US turned out to be a damp squib. Now she has a chance to turn things around on clay where she had made the semifinal at the Prague Open two seasons ago as one of her better recent showings on the surface.
Against Pavlyuchenkova though, it won’t be easy given the Russian has had her moments on clay.
Pavlyuchenkova v Zhang Prediction & Tip
Pavlyuchenkova is 2/5 to win this and 10/11 to do that in straight sets. The former is a safe punt, the latter a riskier but tempting option.
Tip: Pavlyuchenkova to win: 2/5 (bet365)