After a week of thrilling tennis at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open, just four players remain in contention for the title in the United Arab Emirates. All four will surely be determined to make sure they start their season in the best way possible by claiming the title, but who will reach the final and who will fall to the disappointment of defeat?
WTA Abu Dhabi Open Semifinal Predictions
Maria Sakkari vs Aryna Sabalenka
Head-to-head: Sabalenka 3-1 Sakkari
Both Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka have looked very sharp so far at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open. The Greek opened her campaign with fairly comprehensive victories over the rising stars Anastasia Potapova and Cori Gauff, both of whom she beat in straight sets, before getting the better of former French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, 6-4 7-5. She backed that up by rallying from a set down to beat Sofia Kenin 2-6 6-2 6-0 in what was perhaps her best performance of the week so far.
Sabalenka, meanwhile, began her WTA Abu Dhabi Open with an accomplished 7-6 6-2 win over Polona Hercog, before overcoming Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals. There she proved too strong for Ons Jabeur, avenging the defeat she suffered at the Tunisian’s hands at the French Open last season with a 6-2 6-4 win. She then battled past the big-hitting Kazakh Elena Rybakina, winning 6-4 4-6 6-3 to book her place in the last four.
And the Belarusian may well feel confident about her chances of reaching the final. Not only has she won her last 13 matches, having collected back-to-back titles in Ostrava and Linz at the close of 2020, but she has also won three matches in a row against Sakkari. In fact, when they last met, Sabalenka lost only three games in a crushing 6-3 6-0 win in Doha. Do not expect such a one-sided outcome in Abu Dhabi, but Sabalenka’s greater weight of shot should once again give her the edge.
Prediction: Sabalenka in 3
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Marta Kostyuk vs Veronika Kudermetova
Head-to-head: first meeting
Marta Kostyuk may only be ranked inside the top 100 by the skin of her teeth, but the world #99 has been playing with an assured touch so far at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open. The 18-year-old, one of several WTA young guns looking likely to have an exceedingly bright future, began her week by dismissing Lucie Hradecka for the loss of only six games, and she backed that win up by edging out the versatile and experienced Hsieh Su-Wei, 6-3 6-7 6-3.
Kostyuk then trashed Tamara Zidansek 6-1 6-1 in the quarterfinals, before recovering from a slow-start to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 0-6 6-4 6-1. However, she may not be able to afford such an indifferent period against Veronika Kudermetova, who has impressed throughout the week in Abu Dhabi, not least in upsetting 10th seed Anett Kontaveit in the first round and second seed and world #5 Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals, with the Russian edging out Svitolina in a third-set tiebreak.
That said, Kudermetova’s victory in the quarterfinals will surely have taken a considerable toll on both her mental and physical reserves, particularly this early in the season when players are still working their way back towards full match fitness. Kostyuk, who has been playing largely fearless tennis and is surely the fresher having spent less time on court so far this week, could well be in the perfect position to capitalise on any lethargy on Kudermetova’s part.
Prediction: Kostyuk in 3
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