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Azarenka vs Pavlyuchenkova WTA Monterrey Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Can Azarenka inflict a rare Monterrey defeat on four-time champion, Pavlyuchenkova?

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 5 Apr 2019
  • Victoria Azarenka vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is live from Monterrey on Friday, 5 April from 8:30pm local time/ 3:30am BST (Saturday morning)
  • Azarenka leads 4-1 on head-to-head
Victoria Azarenka

Former world No. 1, Victoria Azarenka faces a big test in Monterrey on Friday, as she takes on four-time champion, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-finals. 

Azarenka is attempting to reach her first WTA semi-final since last year's Miami Open, but to do that, she will have to perform a rare feat on Friday- beat Pavlyuchenkova in Monterrey. Only two women have managed that over the years, Sara Errani in 2015 and Pauline Parmentier in 2016. 

Making her debut in Monterrey, Azarenka has made the most of a very gentle draw, defeating Japanese qualifier, Miyu Kato in the first round, before easing past Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas 6-3 6-2 in the second round. Both Kato and Diyas are currently ranked outside the top-100.

It is interesting to note that Azarenka's best results this season have come in Mexico, as her only other quarter final in 2019 was in Acapulco, where she defeated Danielle Collins and Tatjana Maria before losing a close one to Sofia Kenin. That was also the only other tournament where she won consecutive matches, as she lost out in the first round in Auckland and the Australian Open, and went just one round better in St. Petersburg, Indian Wells and Miami. To be fair, she's had some really difficult draws to contend with this year, as four of her six defeats have been against each of the Williams sisters, Petra Kvitova and former top-10 player, Caroline Garcia

Since mid-2016, when she took a break from the tour to have her baby, Azarenka had a stop-start career, and has not really been able to inject any momentum. She spent significant periods away due to a custody battle with her ex-lover, while she also missed a good chunk of time with injuries. Last year’s Miami semi-final promised to herald some sort of revival, but that never happened, as she made just two more quarter-finals in the rest of the season, in San Jose and Tokyo, and retired hurt from both. Tokyo, in September, turned out to be her final tournament of the season.

She didn't have a great first quarter in 2019, with her ranking sliding to 67th in the world, but with Miami out of the way, she doesn't have much else to defend for the rest of the year, and she will hope of gradually climbing back up the rankings in the coming months. A semi-final in Monterrey will be a good starting point, but she faces a very difficult challenge in her quest for that last four spot Friday.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has been absolutely amazing in Monterrey, winning four titles, and building a quite staggering 24-2 record at the tournament. Her dominance has been reflected in the way she has scythed through her opening couple of rounds, dropping just three games in blasting past Anna Blinkova (6-0 6-3) and Ivana Jorovic (6-0 6-0). The Russian has not had the most challenging draw, but she has clearly laid down the gauntlet to anyone looking to deny her a fifth title. 

Pavlyuchenkova arrived Monterrey on a four-match losing streak, and had suffered consecutive opening round exits in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami, but the Mexican city has once again brought out the best in the powerful Russian- and when she is comfortable and at her best, the former world No. 13 and multiple Grand Slam quarter-finalist is hard to contain. 

The 27-year-old is into her third quarter final of the season, adding to her last-eight appearances at the Australian Open and St. Petersburg. She is yet to reach a tour semi-final since claiming the Strasbourg title last May. 

Pavlyuchenkova had a generally disappointing 2018- apart from that Strasbourg title, she made just a handful of other quarter finals, first in Stuttgart, and then a late blitz in Wuhan, Linz and Moscow. She was down at 42nd at the end of the year- her lowest finish since 2008.

Her inconsistency has again been highlighted in her start to 2019. She was slow off the blocks, winning just one match between Shenzhen and Hobart; she then made those back-to-back quarter finals in Melbourne and St. Petersburg, before sliding into a four-match losing run heading into Monterrey. Predictably, the wave has gone up again in Monterrey, where she will continue her bid for a fifth title on Friday.

Pavlyuchenkova is also seeking her eighth straight win in Monterrey, as she claimed her fourth title in her most recent visit in 2017- can she extend her superb record at the tournament by taking down Azarenka?

Azarenka boasts a 4-1 lead over Pavlyuchenkova from their previous meetings, with the latter's solitary win coming via retirement in their most recent encounter in Cincinnati in 2015. Apart from their first ever meeting, which Azarenka won 6-2 6-2 in Miami in 2009, their other completed matches have been very close with Azarenka winning two in three sets, and the other in two tie breaks.

"[Pavlyuchenkova] obviously has a lot of success here, likes playing here," said Azarenka. "She has big shots, she’s played really well this year, and it’s not an easy opponent, a very aggressive player."

Azarenka's more consistent game has often proven too good for the highly aggressive, and far more erratic Pavlyuchenkova, but the dynamics are a little different heading into their latest encounter on Friday.  A lot has changed between 2015, when they last met, and now, especially for Azarenka, who has dipped well below her world No. 1/ top-ten best. Not that Pavlyuchenkova has been blowing the world away since then, but she has largely remained the dangerous floater. This is Monterrey, where the Russian generally assumes beast mode. Here is her chance to get one over Azarenka.

Victoria Azarenka vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is live from Monterrey on Friday, 5 April from 8:30pm local time/ 3:30am BST (Saturday morning)

*Geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance

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Azarenka vs Pavlyuchenkova WTA Monterrey Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Can Azarenka inflict a rare Monterrey defeat on four-time champion, Pavlyuchenkova?

Victoria Azarenka takes on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the Monterrey quarter finals on Friday. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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