Main draw action at the inaugural edition of the WTA Astana Open in Nur-Sultan commences with Day 1 on Monday. A relatively weak field has ascended on the Kazakhstani capital, only 4 of the world’s top 75 players will be in action this week. Home favourite Yulia Putintseva is the top seed, followed by Alison Van Uytvanck, Kristina Mladenovic and Greet Minnen. Expect a couple of lesser-known players to gain some valuable wins. Let’s take a closer look at the Day 1 matches, as the second seeded Alison Van Uytvanck kick-starts her campaign. We also predict the rest of the day’s matches in a separate article.
WTA Nur-Sultan Day 1 Predictions
Alison Van Uytvanck vs Zhibek Kulambayeva
H2H: First meeting.
Alison Van Uytvanck hasn’t had much luck in singles of late. However, the World #55 does arrive in Nur-Sultan fresh from winning the doubles title in Luxembourg alongside Greet Minnen. The Belgian isn’t expected to have many problems in her opening round match-up here as she takes on a plyer making her WTA tour debut. Kulambayeva is ranked just outside the Top 500 and has barely won any matches above the ITF 25K level. The 21-year-old doesn’t seem to have much potential, having had an unspectacular junior career where she reached a career high of #100. Van Uytvanck will be the toughest opponent the Kazakh wild card has ever faced; on paper she doesn’t stand a chance, but it will be interesting to see what type of level she can produce.
Prediction: Van Uytvanck in 2
Anna-Lena Friedsam vs Arina Rodionova
H2H: First meeting
Anna-Lena Friedsam has only won a single Tour-level main draw match on a hard court in 2021, and just three overall. The German won’t get many better chances to notch up a valuable main draw victory than this opening round match-up with Arina Rodionova. Rodionova has lost six consecutive matches dating back to Wimbledon in June. Rodionova’s most recent outing ended in a first round loss at an ITF 25K event to Eden Silva, a player ranked outside the Top 400. Friedsam is the better player but it’s hard to make a confident prediction here given how much both players have struggled lately. Rodionova can be a problematic opponent on her day due to her ability to make extra balls, but I will give Friedsam the benefit of the doubt.
Prediction: Friedsam in 3
(Aleksandra Krunic vs Katie Boulter
Aleksandra Krunic and Katie Boulter both breezed through the qualifying draw, each dropping a combined seven games through their two victories over opponents ranked outside the Top 200. Krunic and Boulter have both been inside the Top 100 but currently find themselves outside the Top 150. There are valuable ranking points of offer this week to push back up the rankings. The pair have split their two previous matches in what seems like a fairly even match-up. The slower conditions in Nur-Sultan could give Krunic the slight edge here. Krunic has some recent success on clay, whilst Boulter generally prefers a quicker surface. Krunic is quick around the court and generally plays with more margin and versatility to her game, this may help her outlast the Brit on this occasion.
Prediction: Krunic in 3
Main Photo from Getty.