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WTA Abu Dhabi Open Day Five Predictions Including Sofia Kenin vs Yulia Putintseva

Sofia Kenin in action at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open

There should be plenty of entertaining action on day five at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open, with a number of star names set to take to the court in the United Arab Emirates. But who will book their place in the quarterfinals at this crucial warm-up event ahead of next month’s Australian Open?

WTA Abu Dhabi Open Day Five Predictions

Aryna Sabalenka vs Ons Jabeur

Head-to-head: Jabeur 1-0 Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka has made a fine start to her week at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open, scoring straight-sets victories over Polona Hercog and Ajla Tomljanovic. However, she looks set to face a stern test up against Ons Jabeur, who beat her in their only previous meeting which came at the French Open last season. The Tunisian has also looked sharp so far this week, beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Kateryna Bondarenko, although she did drop a set to Bondarenko.

With both more comfortable playing on the front foot, there should be no shortage of winners. Of the two, Jabeur is the more versatile, with the 15th seed possessing good hands and an effective sliced backhand. She will need to use both to keep Sabalenka out of a rhythm. But the Belarusian has been playing well enough of late to suggest that she will be the player to strike the more telling blows. Expect a close contest, but for Sabalenka to come out on top.

Prediction: Sabalenka in 3
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Sara Sorribes Tormo vs Anastasia Gasanova

Head-to-head: first meeting

Anastasia Gasanova picked up what was surely the finest win of her career when she stunned Karolina Pliskova in the second round at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open. The Russian, who came through the qualifying, will now look to back up her big win when she takes on Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo. Sorribes Tormo has played well in her own right this week, beating French Open semifinalist Nadia Podoroska in the first round before coming back from a set down to oust Bernarda Pera. But Gasanova is in the form of her life and will surely be full of confidence. Expect that to carry her into the quarterfinals.

Prediction: Gasanova in 3
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Maria Sakkari vs Garbine Muguruza

Head-to-head: first meeting

Somewhat surprisingly given how well-established Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sakkari are on the WTA Tour, this will be the first meeting between the pair. But it promises to be an excellent match. Both come into the match in fine form, with Muguruza having dismantled Kristina Mladenovic and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, losing only a handful of games. Sakkari has been equally impressive, beating Anastasia Potapova 6-4 6-2 and Cori Gauff 7-6 6-2.

Long baseline rallies seem likely to be the order of the day here. Both women are good ball-strikers and movers, but neither boasts massive power off the ground. Where Muguruza may be able to carve out a decisive advantage is in her greater willingness and ability to go down the line early in the rally, particularly with her backhand. Sakkari, for all her quality, does not possess the same ability to redirect the ball, which could well prove to be her undoing.

Prediction: Muguruza in 3
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Sofia Kenin vs Yulia Putintseva

Head-to-head: first meeting

This is another match that looks certain to be competitive. Yulia Putintseva has made relatively light work of the opposition so far this week at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open, beating Martina Trevisan 6-3 6-3 in the first round before getting the better of Barbora Krejcikova 6-4 7-5 to book her place in the last 16. Sofia Kenin, meanwhile, made an assured start to her season by beating Yang Zhaoxuan 7-6 6-2, but she dropped the first set to Kirsten Flipkens, only for injury to force the Belgian to retire.

As ever, Kenin will look to use her tactical awareness to blunt Putintseva. But the Kazakh is one of the best competitors in the women’s game, even if her temper can occasionally get the better of her, and owns a versatile weapon in her forehand. The weakness in her game can be her second serve, which Kenin will surely seek to exploit. But when Putintseva is playing well, as she has been this week, it is a weakness she defends well, whilst Kenin has looked slightly short of conviction.

Prediction: Putintseva in 3

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