WTA Abu Dhabi Day 4 Predictions Including Maria Sakkari vs Cori Gauff

Elena Rybakina in action ahead of the WTA Abu Dhabi Open

It has been an entertaining start to the week at the inaugural WTA Abu Dhabi Open, with a number of thrilling matches and some fine individual performances. Now, as the tournament approaches the business end, every player will surely be desperate to make their mark. As ever, we here at LWOT are offering our predictions for every match on the slate on day four, including Hsieh Su-wei vs Marta Kostyuk. But who will book their place in the quarterfinals?

WTA Abu Dhabi Day Four Predictions

Ekaterina Alexandrova vs Heather Watson

Head-to-head: Alexandrova 1-1 Watson

Ekaterina Alexandrova made a composed start to her WTA Abu Dhabi Open campaign, beating Zarina Diyas in straight sets. Heather Watson did not find things quite so straightforward in her opener, but the Briton managed to battle past her compatriot, Jodie Burrage, from a set down, winning 5-7 6-4 6-2. Watson will surely be pleased with the manner in which she finished that match, but she will also be aware that she faces what looks like a stern test on paper in Alexandrova.

Watson did win their last match, which came in Vancouver in 2018, and convincingly, but Alexandrova has improved considerably since, establishing herself in and around the world’s top 30. Watson is typically a committed competitor and will not make the Russian’s life easy, but she also lacks the power to go toe-to-toe with Alexandrova from the baseline. As a result, the match should be on the world #33’s racquet. Expect her to take advantage.

Prediction: Alexandrova in 3
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Maria Sakkari vs Cori Gauff

Head-to-head: Sakkari 1-0 Gauff

It will be interesting to see how Gauff copes with the increasing pressure of expectation over the course of this season. The American’s rise has been astonishing, and everything she has overcome so far suggests that the pressure will not affect her unduly, but she is now a relatively established name on the WTA Tour and players will know what to expect when facing her. Or most will. Her first opponent of the year, Ulrikke Eikeri, looked thoroughly out of her depth in a 0-6 1-6 loss.

Maria Sakkari seems certain to provide Gauff with a more searching examination. The Greek enjoyed another solid season in 2020 and dismissed Gauff at the relocated Cincinnati Open, winning 6-1 6-3 in the first round. It would be a significant surprise were she to win so comfortably again, with Gauff far from at her best that day, but Sakkari should have the power and accuracy from the baseline to hit through the American’s stubborn defences regularly enough to reach the last eight.

Prediction: Sakkari in 3
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Karolina Muchova vs Daria Kasatkina

Head-to-head: first meeting

Karolina Muchova’s all-court game could well cause Daria Kasatkina real problems in this second-round clash at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open. Despite the Russian’s miserable 2020, which saw her end the year ranked 72nd in the world, there is reason to believe she can get back towards the top of the game. However, her success has principally been built on outlasting opponents in extended rallies from the back of the court before either drawing an error or striking a winner into the open court.

Muchova, however, seems unlikely to allow Kasatkina to settle into a rhythm from the baseline. In an era when most tennis, particularly on the WTA Tour, is played from the back of the court, Muchova boasts uncommon feel at the net and an unusual willingness to come forward. If she is able to end a good percentage of points in the forecourt, and bring her forehand into play regularly, expect Muchova to prove just about too strong for the Russian.

Prediction: Muchova in 3
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Elena Rybakina vs Wang Xiyu

Head-to-head: first meeting

The 19-year-old Wang Xiyu looks to have a bright future ahead of her and she will certainly be pleased with how she has started 2021, with the Chinese scoring a fine three-set win over the experienced Arantxa Rus. However, she now faces Elena Rybakina in what looks likely to be a challenge too far for the teenager. Rybakina is not always the most consistent, but she enjoyed a breakthrough 2020 and started her season with a commanding 6-1 6-3 win over the outmatched Lucrezia Stefani.

Rybakina will likely be made to work harder by Wang, who is ranked more than 250 places higher than the Italian Stefani, but she is still relatively inexperienced at this level and she has faced few players of Rybakina’s quality. The Kazakh has the power to hit through almost any opponent on the tour when she is on song, with her backhand a weapon to be feared. Expect her to reach the quarterfinals without encountering too many problems.

Prediction: Rybakina in 2

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