Six main draw matches will be on offer on day 1 of the WTA Qatar Open. We predict all of them. Two of them (plus two of Monday’s qualifying matches) are in this article and the remaining four in another article.
Who will advance?
WTA Qatar Open 2021 Day 1 Predictions
Maria Sakkari vs Mayar Sherif
Head-to-head: first meeting
What is so admirable about Mayar Sherif is her relentless enthusiasm. Sherif is now a trailblazer for Egyptian tennis after winning a Grand Slam main draw match at the Australian Open. But this will be a real step up in quality against an in-form Maria Sakkari.
The Greek was one of the biggest casualties in Melbourne after falling to Kristina Mladenovic in the first round. But that was only a minor blip rather than reason to worry. In the month preceding the Australian Open, Sakkari played a fine tournament in Abu Dhabi, besting the likes of Muguruza, Coco Gauff and Sofia Kenin. If the 25-year-old is able to operate at that level, and hitting with purpose she is bound to advance unscathed.
Prediction: Sakkari in 2
Jessica Pegula vs Misaki Doi (Qualifying)
Head-to-head: Pegula 3-1 Doi
It is almost cruel just how much the tweaked ranking system and the pandemic has affected players like Jessica Pegula. But the 27-year-old American is working her way into the main draw in Doha. She beat Anastasia Potapova in a third set tiebreak in the second round of qualifying. Against Monday’s opponent Misaki Doi, whom she has beaten three times in four meetings, Pegula is an overwhelming favorite to progress.
Prediction: Pegula in 2
Laura Siegemund vs Lesia Tsurenko (Qualifying)
Head-to-head: Siegemund 2-0 Tsurenko
Siegemund has a commanding lead in the series, but both of the German’s wins came on clay. Tsurenko is a perennial danger on hard courts, and it is a surface where all four of her career titles were won. This should put the Ukrainian in good stead in her attempt to qualify.
Prediction: Tsurenko in 2
Garbine Muguruza vs Veronika Kudermetova
Head-to-head: Muguruza 1-0 Kudermetova
Garbine Muguruza will be without the services of her coach Conchita Martinez in Doha after the 48-year-old tested positive for coronavirus. I doubt if that will be a setback in Muguruza’s preparations at the event. The world No.15 is keen to dampen the disappointment of spurning two match points against Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open. But far from it, Muguruza was in rich vein of form and played with so much freedom Down Under. These courts will naturally suit the big hitting style that the Spaniard brings to the table, but Kudermetova does not lack in the power department. This will be tight, but I think consistency will come to the fore and Muguruza just shades it.
Prediction: Muguruza in 3
Main Photo from Getty.