Doha Tuesday: Cibulkova Back In Action
Published February 10, 2014 12:11
 Dominika Cibulkova (SVK #13) vs. [WC] Alisa Kleybanova (RUS #180)
Head-to-head: Kleybanova leads 2-0
Dominika Cibulkova's first outing since her runner-up finish at the Australian Open did not exactly go to plan, as she came out on the wrong end of a three set Fed Cup thriller with Andrea Petkovic. And in her first WTA assignment, the Slovak has been presented with a match-up against another lower-ranked player, albeit one against whom she has a losing record.
Since Alisa Kleybanova registered the second of her two victories over Cibulkova, three years ago in Sydney, she has endured an ordeal far greater than any of her on-court battles. Not long after their meeting in Sydney, Kleybanova's charge up the rankings was placed on hold indefinitely when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. After a successful course of treatment the Russian briefly returned to the tour in 2012 before making a full-time comeback last May.
Her appearances in 2014 have been restricted to qualifying and while these appearances both ended prematurely, she relishes the big stage and, as their previous encounters suggest, possesses the power to neutralize Cibulkova's famed baseline attack.
 Ana Ivanovic (SRB #12) vs. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK #30)
Head-to-head: Ivanovic leads 5-2
Following an inconsistent few years, Ivanovic, under the tutelage of new coach Nemanja Kontic, is starting to show signs of the form that once took her to Grand Slam success and the World No.1 ranking; she won the title in Auckland before reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, defeating Serena Williams en route.
A hip injury has kept the Serb off court since then, forcing her to miss both the WTA event in Paris and her nation's Fed Cup tie with Canada. Ivanovic has never been beyond the third round in four previous visits to Doha and faces a tricky opening match against Daniela Hantuchova.
On the back of a solid 2013, Hantuchova has worked her way back into the Top 30 but the new season has not exactly gone to plan, with a couple of early exits followed by a Fed Cup defeat to Germany over the weekend. Ivanovic has won five of the seven previous meetings between the two, including the past four on hard.
 Eugenie Bouchard (CAN #19) vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA #42)
Head-to-head: Mattek-Sands leads 1-0
In Sydney at the start of January, Eugenie Bouchard lost her first match of the new season, a tight two-setter with the mercurial Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Since then, it is fair to say, things have gone fairly well for the Canadian teenager.
A maiden Grand Slam semifinal followed at the Australian Open, well and truly announcing Bouchard's star potential to those both in and outside the tennis world. A trip to Singapore for the launch of the WTA's Road To Singapore followed, but now it is back to business and a rematch in Doha against Mattek-Sands.
Following her exploits Down Under, Bouchard's game is a secret no longer and she can certainly not afford to take Mattek-Sands lightly. The American has suffered a few injury setbacks in recent times, but her attacking all-court game ensures she is almost always a threat and never a dull watch.
Also on court...
Samantha Stosur looks to follow up her impressive Fed Cup showing with victory over Marina Erakovic, while Andrea Petkovic, Alizé Cornet and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are also in action.
Find the listings for Tuesday's play on the WTA TV developed by Xerox.