WTA Abu Dhabi Open Day 2 Predictions Including Elise Mertens vs Alize Cornet

Elise Mertens in action ahead of the WTA Italian Open
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The seeded players will be in action in a jam-packed schedule on the second day of the WTA Abu Dhabi Open. The likes of Elise Mertens, Karolina Muchova and Cori Gauff will play their first matches of the new season. As ever, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions for every match on the slate on day two, including Tamara Zidansek vs Jennifer Brady, Sorana Cirstea vs Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza vs Kristina Mladenovic and Aryna Sabalenka vs Polona Hercog. Who do you think will reach the second round?

WTA Abu Dhabi Open Day 2 Predictions

Yafan Wang vs Kateryna Bondarenko

Head-to-head: First meeting

Wang hasn’t played a competitive match since losing in Monterrey in her unsuccessful title defense last March. She participated in an exhibition event in China during the off-season, but she could be vulnerable to an early season upset against Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko who has already secured two matches under her belt in Abu Dhabi. Wang’s movement will be her great asset in this match especially if she puts the 34-year-old legs of Bondarenko moving across the court.
Prediction: Wang in 3

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Karolina Muchova vs Danka Kovinic

Head-to-head: First meeting

In 2019, Mats Wilander made a bold statement that we were looking at the future, on the eve of Karolina Muchova’s quarterfinal match against Svitolina at Wimbledon. Whether it was an overreaction or completely justifiable is something we may find out in 2021.

Muchova had produced an eye-catching run to the last eight at SW19 that year. She would win her first title in Seoul a few months later and peak at a career-high ranking of World No.21. But for much of 2020, the sporting world was at a standstill and we never really saw the Czech in full flight. She faces Montenegro’s finest Danka Kovinic who was unbeatable during tennis’ shutdown last year, winning all her matches at the Eastern European Championships–an exhibition event in Serbia. At tour level her major highlights were a quarterfinal in Istanbul and a round of 16 in Rome.

Muchova is like an electric train, she is so fast and is defensively gifted. Expect her to tear down the Montenegrin in a comfortable afternoon.
Prediction: Muchova in 2

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Cori Gauff vs Ulrikke Eikeri

Head-to-head: First meeting

It may not sit well with Ulrikke Eikeri, who is a massive underdog against a player 12 years her junior. But Cori Gauff is no ordinary 16-year-old and plays with a touch of a veteran nearing the peak of her powers. She has now become part of the tennis landscape and has vaulted to inside the Top 50. Last year’s pandemic-enforced pause hit Gauff hard, derailing her momentum after a breakthrough season in 2019. Nothing is lost though, and I expect the precociously talented American to reach more highs this season, starting with an opening round win in Abu Dhabi.
Prediction: Gauff in 2

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Elise Mertens vs Alize Cornet

Head-to-head: Mertens 1-1 Cornet

Mertens has no plans to rest on her laurels despite finishing last season inside the Top 20 for the third straight year. She also registered 34 match wins, the most of any WTA player in 2020. After a busy off-season, she will start her campaign with a Top 10 goal in mind when she meets Alize Cornet. The Frenchwoman is a wily competitor and stubborn baseliner. But these are the kind of matches the Belgian would accentuate her style–not with power–but with discipline.
Prediction: Mertens in 2

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