Day 2 of the inaugural WTA Abu Dhabi Open will feature some of the best players on the women’s tour, including top seed seed and reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
We predict all matches on Day 2, with four of them in this article.
Who will advance?
WTA Abu Dhabi Open Day 2 Predictions
Elena Rybakina vs Lucrezia Stefanini
Head-to-head: First meeting
Elena Rybakina was one of the WTA’s breakout stars from 2020. The 6ft Kazakh reached four finals in the opening two months of last year and won her second career title in Hobart. She won an impressive 29 matches in a truncated season and broke inside the Top 20 for the first time. Historically, the 21-year-old hits a purple patch right of bat to start the new season, and it would take a monumental effort by Lucrezia Stefanini – one of many Italian qualifiers in the main draw this week – to stop her in her tracks.
Prediction: Rybakina in 2
Sofia Kenin vs Zhaoxuan Yang
Head-to-head: Kenin 1-0 Yang
Sofia Kenin was crowned the WTA’s Player of the Year in 2020 after a tremendous season yielded a maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last January. And when nobody expected, she kept proving to the doubters that Melbourne triumph was no fluke, finishing the year strong with a runner-up finish at the French Open.
The American headlines the 64-player field in Abu Dhabi as the No.1 seed. She opens up against Chinese qualifier Zhaoxuan Yang. The 26-year-old Yang has plummeted down the singles rankings in recent years, and put greater concentration in doubles where she has won five titles. Kenin registered a thumping win the last time she played Yang. I am afraid the outcome will be similar here.
Prediction: Kenin in 2
Mona Barthel vs Anastasia Gasanova
Head-to-head: First meeting
Anastasia Gasanova saved a match point in the final round of qualifying to sneak her way into the main draw of a WTA tournament for the first time. She plays Germany’s Mona Barthel who hasn’t played competitively since March last year. Barthel is outside the Top 200 in the WTA rankings, but will use a protected ranking at the Australian Open next month. Granted Gasanova has acclimatized herself with the conditions in the Emirati capital, the experience of Barthel should not be discounted in this one.
Prediction: Barthel in 3
Garbine Muguruza vs Kristina Mladenovic
Head-to-head: Muguruza 1-2 Mladenovic
Garbine Muguruza entered the new decade with a fresh wave of confidence. After sinking to her lowest point in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, she had a point to prove last season and did she make it count. She became a genuine Grand Slam contestant once more. Her forehand was a major weakness during that period of severe slump. But since reuniting with Conchita Martinez she has been able to generate consistent depth with it. This could be problematic for Kristina Mladenovic who is aiming to extend her winning record against the Spaniard. Mladenovic has crept back into the Top 50, but failed to string back-to-back wins on tour all year in 2020. The former World No.1 should be a heavy favorite to progress.
Prediction: Muguruza in 2
Main Photo from Getty.