Match Preview: Lauren Davis v Aryna Sabalenka

This is the opening match on Centre Court of the Washington DC event, which beings tomorrow as the US Open series begins. The favourite going into this blockbuster women’s match is Lauren Davis, who was the finalist at this event last year.

Recent Form

Lauren Davis had an excellent start to the season but she has taken her foot of the brake recently and hasn’t been as good. Just before the French Open she fell in the second round of Rome to Karolina Pliskova, which led to a first round loss at Rolland Garros to Carina Witthoeft. Her grass court season was particularly horrid as she took two first round losses in Nottingham and Birmingham to Kurumi Nara and Naomi Osaka respectively. She then got some good wins to make the third round of Eastbourne before going out to Barbora Strycova but it ultimately led to a first round loss to Varvara Lepchenko at Wimbledon. Nearly all of Sabalenka’s tournaments this year have been ITF events or qualifying but the one WTA main draw that she has played this year was at Wimbledon where she went out in the second round to Carina Witthoeft. Davis is currently at spot 35 in the Race to Singapore and Sabalenka is at spot 99, so they are both in the top 100 for this year at the moment.

Washington Open Record

Lauren Davis has had some of her best career results at this event as she makes her fifth appearance at the event since she made her debut in 2012. Her best result was last year, in 2016, where she got wins over Shelby Rogers and Monica Puig to reach the final before falling to Yanina Wickmayer. Her worst result was when she made her debut in 2012 when she fell in the second round of qualifying to Jennifer Elie. Her average result at this event is the second round but she has quite a bit of pressure on her this year to defend final points. This will be the first time that Sabalenka has played at the Washington Open and it isn’t the best draw for her.

Head to Head Record

Lauren Davis and Aryna Sabalenka have never played against each other in a WTA main draw match.

Predictions

I don’t think that Davis will be playing at her best today, especially at the beginning, and I think that Sabalenka will challenge her but Davis’s experience will get her over the line. I think it will be a nervy start from both girls and there won’t be the best quality tennis up until about 3-3, where Davis will start to get a lot more shots and win the final three games of the set. I think that Sabalenka will be over her nerves by this point and she will be swinging freely against a subpar Davis. I think this will allow her to get a break towards the end of the set and force a third set. I feel at this point in the match, Davis’s fight and determination will kick in and she will be able to move through this opponent who’s she quite a bit better than to get the match 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

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