WTA Aegon Classic, 🇬🇧 Birmingham QF Preview
QF #1: (9) 🇦🇺 Daria Gavrilova vs 🇨🇿 Lucie Safarova
Daria Gavrilova will look to square her head-to-head series with Lucie Safarova when the pair meet at the quarter-final stage at the Aegon Classic on Friday in Birmingham. This will be the 6th meeting between the pair, Safarova currently holds a 3-2 record over the Aussie, all five of their previous matches have been on a hard court. Gavrilova and Safarova have both been greatly challenged on route to the final 8 and are seemingly primed to contest an extremely tight, hard-fought encounter with a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs. Both Gavrilova and Safarova are coming off first round exits at Roland Garros so will be looking to build momentum ahead of Wimbledon where a similar result would be a disastrous result for both ladies.
Grass would generally be considered Gavrilova’s least successful surface but the Aussie has shown signs this week that she is capable of performing well on this surface. Gavrilova started the week with a 6-4 6-4 win over Su-Wei Hsieh before surviving an extremely difficult second round clash where she just edged past Katerina Siniakova 7-5 2-6 6-4. Gavrilova was unable to win back-to-back matches on grass last year so reaching the quarter-finals in Birmingham is already a positive result in her first tournament on the surface in 2017.
Unlike Gavrilova, Safarova has traditionally played her best tennis on grass. Safarova has struggled for consistency in 2017 but will be boosted by her start to the grass season as she reached the semi-finals in Nottingham last week and is now into the quarter-finals in Birmingham.. Safarova started the week with an extremely hard-fought 5-7 7-6 7-5 win over Dominika Cibulkova before easing past Naomi Osaka 6-2 6-4. Safarova has reached the second week at Wimbledon in the past three years including a semi-final appearance in 2014, there will be pressure on Safarova to emulate those results in 2017 as she aims to defend a large chunk of her remaining ranking points.
Safarova holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Gavrilova. Safarova has won 3 of their last 4 matches including a commanding 6-2 6-2 win in their most recent meeting which took place in Miami earlier this year. Interestingly the last four matches between the two have been decided in straight sets, Gavrilova beat Safarova 6-2 6-2 in Moscow last year in what was another one-sided match between the two.
Safarova has to be given the edge heading into this one. This is a good match-up for Safarova and the surface should match the match-up even more advantageous for the Czech. Safarovae’s serve is very potent on this surface and swings into Gavrilova’s weaker side, whilst Gavrilova will struggle to keep up with Safarova in terms of holding serve, expect Gavrilova’ second serve will get severely punished by Safarova on this surface. Gavrilova is a fierce competitor and Safarova is not necessarily at her best at the moment so this could go the distance but Safarova should ultimately be too good.