Karolina Pliskova has a lot on the line this week in Wuhan. In addition to potentially capturing her fifth title of the season (which would match Petra Kvitova's 2018 leading haul), Pliskova last held the world No. 1 ranking in 2017 and could reclaim it with a strong showing.
The Czech simply needs to keep pace with Ashleigh Barty, who is defending semifinal points from last year. Barty, on the other hand, needs to advance one round further than Pliskova—a somewhat tall order for the Aussie given Pliskova's recent display. The second seed enters the tournament in flawless form, coming off a dominant title-winning performance two weeks ago in Zhengzhou.
The perennial WTA-tour ace leader will face off against teenage sensation Amanda Anisimova, who is competing in her first event since the death of her father and coach, Konstantin, in August. Understandably, Anisimova skipped the US Open, but immediately returned to her winning ways on Monday with a three-set victory over last week’s Guangzhou finalist Samantha Stosur.
Pliskova and Anisimova have met once before, in the fourth round of last year’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. The then 16-year-old wild card fought valiantly and gained many fans, but eventually succumbed to Pliskova’s unrelenting pressure, 6-1, 7-6 (2).
In addition to their nearly identical stroke production, the two share a strikingly similar game style. Both crush powerful groundstrokes with uncanny accuracy. They will engage in long, grinding points if necessary, but prefer aggressive first-strike tennis.
Pliskova is a substantial favorite in this matchup, but she knows how well the 18-year old can play, given the American's rise to a career-high No. 23 in July.