Following a pair of compelling second round matches, Ana Ivanovic and Lucie Safarova will meet for a spot in the semi-final round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. This marks the eighth meeting between the two competitors, with Safarova leading the series 5-2, including a victory at this year’s French Open.
Ivanovic stormed to a 3-0 lead in the opening set against Azarneka, but faced some slight resistance from the Belarusian soon afterwards and brought the match back on serve. Yet three consecutive double faults from Azarenka would see the former Grand Slam winner drop serve again as well as the opening set 6-3. The second set was a slightly tighter affair but also ended 6-4 for Ivanovic.
“It was a very tough second round match. She’d had one match already, so I really tried to take my time and get into the match, working hard for each point,” Ivanovic said. “It was a good quality match and I played some good tennis in the important moments – I’m just very happy to be through, because it was a tough draw.”
Lucie Safarova needed three sets to defeat Swiss youngster and rising WTA star Belinda Bencic. The world No. 15 rallied back from a set down to defeat Bencic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in 2 hours and 3 minutes of court time. Safarova maintained more consistent play in the latter stages of the match, as she struck 10 aces, won 73% of her first service points and saved 5of 8 break point opportunities.
While Ivanovic is the higher ranked competitor with a better resume of wins this season, the Serb has lost her last five consecutive encounters to Safarova, including a 6-3, 6-3 loss at the French Open this year. Simply based on their matches to date in Tokyo, the odds will favour Ivanovic, who looked determined and motivated against former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka. If she can maintain that sort of gameplay against Safarova, she will likely snap that 5-year losing streak.
Prediction: Ana Ivanovic in Three Sets