Match Preview: Karolina Pliskova v Veronica Cepede Royg

This match will be the fourth match out on Suzanne-Lenglen Court as the highest seed remaining in Pliskova takes on the first South American woman to reach the fourth round of a slam since 2011 in Cepede Royg. Pliksova doesn’t love clay and Cepede Royg thrives on it but Pliskova is still coming into the match as the favourite to win, but not by a large margin. Two of Cepede Royg’s three matches this week have been stretched to three sets were as only one of Pliskova’s matches has been three sets.

Recent Form

Karolina Pliskova has been one of the best players this year so far and could be world number 1 by the end if this slam. Her end of the hard court season was slightly underwhelming with the all the hype she was getting as she lost in the semifinals to Svetlana Kuznetsova at the Premier 5 event in Inidan Wells and then lost in the semifinals of the Premier 5 event in Miami to Caroline Wozniacki. Even though they are two really good results most players could only dream of, Pliskova was expected to win both of the tournaments and she was disappointed with the losses she took. Her first events on clay didn’t go to plan as she fell in the quarterfinals of Stuttgart to eventual champion Laura Siegemund and then the first round of Prague to Camila Giorgi. She got a couple of matches in the big clay events as she reached the second round of Madrid before going out to Anastasija Sevastova and then she lost in the quarterfinals of Rome to eventual champion Elina Svitolina. The clay results haven’t been super strong but when you look at the players she has fallen to they are all quality clay court opponents who ended up going deep in the particular events. Cepede Royg’s results haven’t been anywhere as good as those because her ranking forces her to play qualifying for most events. Her end of the hard court season saw her fall in the first round of qualifying in Indian Wells but then lose to Dominika Cibulkova in the second round of Miami. Her clay court swing has seen her lose in the first round of Charleston to Shelby Rogers and lose in the second round of Bogata to Johanna Larsson. The only other clay event she has played was an ITF event, in which she made it to the final before going down to Marketa Vondrousova.

French Open Record

Karolina Pliskova is playing in her seventh French Open this year since making her debut in 2011 but she had never made it past the second round before this year. Her average result over the six years she has played is the first round, which she has already gone way past. Her worst result was on her debut in 2011 when she lost in the second round of qualifying to Vitalia Diatchenko. Her best results before this year came in 2014 and 2015 when she fell in the second round to Agnieszka Radwanska and Andreea Mitu respectively. She fell in the first round to Shelby Rogers here last year which meant she defended all her points by just putting her name in the draw this year. Veronica Cepede Royg has played this event five times before this year with her average round reached being the first round. Her worst results came in 2013 and 2014 when she fell in the first round of qualifying to Elena Daniilidou and Gabriela Dabrowski respectively. Her best result came last year, in 2016, when she reached the second round with a win over Sabine Lisicki before falling to Sloane Stephens.

Head to Head Record

Karolina Pliskova and Veronica Cepede Royg have never played each other before in their careers.

Prediction

I think that this match will be very unusual with a lot of patchy and erratic play from both competitors. I think Cepede Royg will thrive on the adrenaline but once it wears off, Pliskova will be there to mop up the wreckage. I think that the first set will see Cepede Royg play the set off her life and Pliskova be very patchy and miss the majority  of her shots. I don’t see Pliskova hitting many if any winners in the opener and losing it to the Paraguayan 6-0, which would be the first bagel set against Pliskova in a long time. I think that we will see Cepede Royg come back down to earth for the final two sets and Pliskova will return to a level of consistency. I see the Czech number one getting the break in the middle of the set and that carrying her through to force a decider. In the decider, I think that Pliskova will race to a 4-0 or 5-0 and then survive a mini fightback from Cepede Royg to take the match 0-6, 6-3, 6-2. I don’t think Pliskova will be happy with the match but she will be very impressed to make a quarterfinal of a slam on her least favourite surface.

 

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