Former French Open finalist Sara Errani will step out on the court later tonight to take on the big-serving Czech Kristyna Pliskova for a cracking second-round encounter at the 2020 Palermo Ladies Open.
The Italian, who has been struggling to find form for a while now, notched up a good win over a feisty opponent in Romania's Sorana Cirstea yesterday. She will look to carry forward that momentum into her next encounter too.
But beating Pliskova, who delivered a characteristically strong serving performance in her opening round win, would be quite tricky.
Pliskova was especially impressive behind first serve in her opening round win over third seed Maria Sakkari, winning an astonishing 81% of those points. She was also clinical when it mattered most, as she took all three break point opportunities that came her way.
In stark contrast, Errani's numbers on serve were far less impressive. The Italian dropped serve five times and won only 48% of the points on her first delivery. She was, however, strong on return, and generated as many as 21 break points.
It is hard to imagine similar return stats against a server of Pliskova's quality, but Errani's defense and foot speed can certainly trouble the Czech. An aggressive approach would be Pliskova's best hope, as she is unlikely to outmaneuver the Italian in the longer rallies.
Sara Errani vs Kristyna Pliskova head-to-head
This is set to be the first meeting between the two women and as it stands, their games could not be any more different.
While Pliskova is known for her powerful serve and handy net approaches, Errani likes to play herself into the game and win rallies using solid point construction. She is also the better mover across the court by far, and she will need all of that to work for her on the day.
There is no simply no way for Errani to match Pliskova's power, so she will have to be smart with her shot selection and returns. The Italian will also have to resign herself to the fact that Pliskova will win a lot of free points off of her first serve; she will just have to commit that extra bit to her second serve returns and make the best use of them whenever they come.
Sara Errani vs Kristyna Pliskova match prediction
It will take a spirited attempt from Sara Errani to upstage her higher-ranked opponent, which will be particularly tough given that she has not had the most promising results coming into the tournament. While her win over a power player like Cirstea might have given her some confidence, this one might be too big of an obstacle at this point.
Prediction: Kristyna Pliskova to win in straight sets.