Last year, Petrova reached the quarters in Dubai – beating Suarez Navarro on the way – but that was before a string of five first-round losses culminating at the US Open. The Russian ended her season early to recover, but suffered a tragic loss at the end of the 2013 season when her mother, an Olympic medalist, died in a car accident on 7 December. Petrova finished the year ranked 102, her first season-ending finish outside the top 100 since 2002.
After falling in the second round of qualifying for the Open GDF Suez to Dinah Pfizenmaier, Petrova qualified for the Qatar Total Open in Doha, losing narrowly to Peng Shuai 6-7(5), 5-7 and looks on the cusp of being able to beat higher-ranked players again. Now 100, Petrova opens in Dubai against world no. 17 Suarez Navarro.
Carla Suarez Navarro (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
An elbow injury ruled the Spanish player out of Doha – although that probably had more to do with the sterling service done to her country during the rain-delayed Fed Cup tie in Seville, where she won both her singles matches – and Suarez Navarro’s results haven’t been eye-catchingly good so far in 2014, the highlight being that Fed Cup showing and a quarter-final appearance in Brisbane.
Suarez-Navarro and Petrova are tied at 2-2 in the head-to-head, with each winning one clay-court and one hard-court encounter. The last hard-court meeting went Petrova’s way – a dominant 6-1, 6-0 win in Dubai last year – but Petrova will hope to avoid being on the other end of that sort of scoreline this time. The Russian will need to serve well and be prepared to wait for the right moment to go for the winner, while Suarez-Navarro needs to come in focused and avoid the passivity she often lapses into.
Suarez-Navarro and Petrova are scheduled on Centre Court at 3.30pm (11.30am GMT)