Later today will be the final of the Monterrey Open and it is a rematch from the 2013 Monterrey Open final, which Pavlyuchenkova won in three sets. Kerber dropped one set in her opening match but apart from that all her matches have been in straight sets. Pavlyuchenkova dropped a set in her quarterfinal with Timea Babos but she has won every other match in straight sets. Angelique Kerber enters this match as the favourite to take down Pavlyuchenkova and win her first WTA title of the season.
Angelique Kerber has been playing quite well recently after a disappointing Australian Open series. She had a poor result as she fell in the second round of Doha but then scored her best result of the season with a semifinal run at the Premier 5 tournament in Dubai. She made the fourth round of Indian Wells before falling to eventual champion Elena Vesnina and then fell to Venus Williams in the Miami quarterfinals. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has had a reasonable time on tour recently after a very successful Australian Open and Australian swing. In the middle east, she lost second round in Doha to Dominika Cibulkova and first round in Dubai to Ons Jabeur, which is a loss she should not be taking. She reached the quarterfinals of Indian Wells before falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova but couldn’t back that up as she fell to Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the second round of Miami. I believe that this will be on their minds for the match but it doesn’t really favour either player.
Angelique Kerber has played here twice before, in 2011 and 2013, because she normally plays the Charleston event. Her best result was in 2013, when she reached the final before falling to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets. Her worst result came in 2011 when she fell in the first round to Polana Hercog in straight sets. I think she will be feeling comfortable on the surface just because she has that final record behind her but she is defending semifinal points from last year in Charleston so the pressure is off now that she has made the final of Monterrey. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has played this tournament 5 times in the last 6 years and is a three-time champions as she took home the trophy in 2010, 2011 and 2013. In the finals she got wins over Daniela Hantuchova in three sets, Jelena Jankovic in three sets and Angelique Kerber in three sets. Her worst result was last year when she fell in the first round to Pauline Parmentier, so she didn’t have any pressure coming into the tournament.
Head to Head Record
These two have played each other eight times throughout their careers with Angelique Kerber leading 5-3 in their win-loss record. They have played five times on the hard courts with Pavlyuchenkova winning three of their encounters on the surface and Kerber winning the two. Their latest hard-court match was in the quarterfinal of the 2016 Brisbane International, which Angelique Kerber won 6-4, 6-4. They have played once on grass in the second round of 2015 Wimbledon and Angelique Kerber won that clash 7-5, 6-2. Angelique Kerber leads their clay head to head 2-0 and their last match came in a 2015 Fed Cup semifinal which Kerber won 6-1, 6-0. I think that this will be on their minds throughout the match and it will favour Kerber.
Both players will be a little nervous to start the match but throughout the match Kerber will be playing well but Pavlyuchenkova will be slightly unfocused. Kerber will capture the early break in the first set and that’s all she will need as she will eventually serve out the set without any more service breaks. Kerber will be striking her forehand well in the first set but Pavlyuchenova’s game will never be in full swing. In the second set, neither player will be playing greatly and there might be a couple of exchanges of breaks on the way to 5-5. Pavlyuchenkova will be nervous from there but Kerber will stay steady and eventually she will break or serve out the 6-4, 7-5 victory. This will be really good for Kerber in terms of her finding confidence and also her trying to get back a rhythm.