The third day of action at the WTA Toray Pan Pacific Open is probably the most anticipated of all. The tournament organizers worked tooth and nail to bring Iga Swiatek back to Tokyo for the first time since the Olympic Games. She’ll make her tournament debut in a match against Japanese qualifier Mai Hontama. Three additional second-round matches will take place on Wednesday. But who will advance?
WTA Tokyo Day 3 Predictions
Jessica Pegula vs Cristina Bucsa
Head-to-head: Pegula 1-0 Bucsa
Jessica Pegula has locked her place in the doubles field at the WTA Finals alongside Coco Gauff. A deep run in Tokyo will seal her spot in singles as she is now less than 300 points from the qualification cut-off. She missed her title defense in Guadalajara, choosing to recuperate from a draining summer in North America. At least she’ll have the comfort blanket knowing some of her season’s objectives were met and we might see her produce a gallant display here. Cristina Bucsa primarily plays her best tennis on clay. Pegula should be winning this one handsomely.
Prediction: Pegula in 2
Liudmila Samsonova vs Ekaterina Alexandrova
Head-to-head: Alexandrova 1-0 Samsonova
Ekaterina Alexandrova’s form has dipped significantly since her US Open exit to Marketa Vondrousova. In fact, she lost quite heavily in that match. She hasn’t played with any regulation in her shots and her serve is leaking of double faults. She survived her opening match at WTA Tokyo by tiny margins, beating Anna Kalinskaya 7-5 in the third. Liudmila Samsonova hasn’t played since the US Open but wasted no time to get in the groove as she swatted aside Tatjana Maria’s quirky baseline game 6-0, 6-2. Samsonova’s powerful ball-striking and measured serve gives her the edge here, and a big one.
Prediction: Samsonova in 2
Veronika Kudermetova vs Kayla Day
Head-to-head: Day 1-0 Kudermetova
Veronika Kudermetova was veering close to crisis territory in her first-round match but showed admirable resilience and mental strength to turn the second set around and defeat Harriet Dart 6-3, 7-6. It was her first straight-sets win since the beginning of July and her fourth win overall in the same time span. Kayla Day, for her part, made light work of Moyuka Uchijima, dropping just four games. The Californian has forged her career-best season culminating in a Top 100 breakthrough. She can profit from Kudermetova’s flailing serve and inconsistent ground game. The Russian has had an eventful season characterized by many setbacks. This could be close despite the gulf in ranking.
Prediction: Kudermetova in 3
Iga Swiatek vs Mai Hontama
Head-to-head: first meeting
This will be Iga Swiatek’s first visit to WTA Tokyo since a crushing defeat to Paula Badosa in the second round of the Olympic Games two years ago. She’ll be looking to wipe off that result from her memory bank. Swiatek could eat into Sabalenka’s lead in the rankings as the Belarusian continues to take additional rest time. She has a cushy opener to ease her way into the draw in Tokyo. Mai Hontama cruised through the qualifying draw on home soil and comfortably took down Nao Hibino in her opening match. But this will be such a drastic change from any of her recent matchups. The Japanese player has modest weapons which would be enough to get results against low-key opposition. But not the Pole, who is a world-class athlete.
Prediction: Swiatek in 2
Main Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran – USA TODAY Sports