The level of tennis should go up a notch on Day 2 of the inaugural World Tennis League. Novak Djokovic will be Team Falcons’ headline act when he takes on Alexander Zverev in a popcorn singles rubber. Who will score the most points as the Falcons face the Hawks?
World Tennis League Day 2 Predictions
Grigor Dimitrov and Paula Badosa vs Dominic Thiem and Anett Kontaveit
Head-to-head: first meeting
I was actually surprised Thiem never prioritized playing doubles in the early part of his comeback. He was in dire need of matches and it took a while before he was able to get his first win. He is slowly but steadily getting to the level that saw him win the 2020 US Open and the first quarter of 2023 could be crucial in Thiem’s chances of hitting his stride again. Historically, he has not been a popular face on the doubles court but he is an excellent baseliner on an indoor hard court. On paper, it looks like Dimitrov and Badosa have the mechanics to get a result and this should be a lot closer than the opening-day mixed doubles match.
Prediction: Dimitrov/Badosa in 3
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina
Head-to-head: Sabalenka 3-0 Rybakina
Rybakina was one of the most unexpected Grand Slam champions in recent memory after she sensationally won Wimbledon in July. But rather than build on that triumph, it seemed the emotional toll took the wind out of her sails. She finished the year outside the top 20 partly due to the All England Club not awarding ranking points at the grass-court slam. Sabalenka, meanwhile, enjoyed a renaissance in the second half of 2022, channeling her frustration into positive energy. The Belarusian reached the biggest final of her career at the year-end championships, scoring a rousing win over Iga Swiatek in the process. But she fell short at the final hurdle, losing to the in-form Caroline Garcia. Still, there were a lot of positives to pick from Fort Worth and I think she is in better shape kicking off proceedings at the World Tennis League.
Prediction: Sabalenka in 3
Novak Djokovic vs Alexander Zverev
Head-to-head: Djokovic 7-4 Zverev
When he was allowed to play this season, Djokovic was indeed the best player in the world and his results were simply irrefutable. Another stint at the top of men’s tennis looks inevitable in 2023 for the 21-time Grand Slam winner. The Serbian star will lock horns with Alexander Zverev whose 2022 campaign ended prematurely after suffering a horrific ankle injury at the French Open. Zverev only returned to competitive action at last week’s Diriyah Cup where notched a very good win over Dominic Thiem. But we cannot fathom another upset in this one. The German is still short on match practice and although he owns two wins over Djokovic under the roof, he is unlikely to pose any threat in Dubai.
Prediction: Djokovic in 2
Main Photo from Getty.