5 captivating clashes to watch out for in the WTA Abu Dhabi Open 2021

The 2021 WTA Tour kickstarts with the Abu Dhabi Open. It has been included as a new tournament in the calendar after being an exhibition tournament for the past 10 years and is a WTA-500 event.

Some exciting matches that the fans will relish at the Abu Dhabi Open 

Sofia Kenin vs Kirsten Flipkens

The top-seeded Kenin began her campaign by beating the Chinese player, Yang Zhaoxuan in straight sets. The American hit 11 aces but could convert only 3 out of 12 breakpoints in the match. The World number 4 will look to get in perfect shape ahead of her Australian Open defence.

Flipkens etched out a tough three-set win against Laura Siegemund. The World number 86  had a strong first serve percentage and converted 6 out of 12 breakpoints. Kenin leads the head to head record 2-0 against Flipkens. 

Aryna Sabalenka vs Ajla Tomlijanovic

Sabalenka began her run winning 7-6 6-2 against Polona Hercog. Despite a rusty start, the Belarusian cut down the errors in the second set hitting winners in all areas of the court continuously. She is on a 10-match winning streak now. 

Tomlijanovic trounced Chinese player, Zhu Lin 6-2 7-6. She controlled her nerves in the pressure situations and came out on top winning the crucial points. Sabalenka leads the head to head record 2-1 against Tomlijanovic.

Garbine Muguruza vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich

Muguruza won convincingly against Kristina Mladenovic with a scoreline of 6-2 6-4. The fifth-seeded Spaniard kept here unforced error count to a minimum as the match progressed. 

On the other hand, Sasnovich thrashed Anna Bondar 6-2 6-3. The Belarusian's all-round game and counterpunching was impressive. This is the first-ever career meeting between the two players and this match could go the distance.

Elena Rybakina vs Xinyu Wang

The sixth-seeded Rybakina outplayed Lucrezia Stefanini 6-3 6-1. The Kazhakstani player won 84% of her first serve points and also converted 5 of 7 breakpoints to sail through to the next round. Rybakina was in great form last season reaching five finals. 

Wang won her first-round clash in three sets against Arantxa Rus. The 19-year-old is ranked 153 now and is making rapid progress by quickly climbing up the charts. Rybakina leads the head to head record 1-0 against Wang.

Karolina Pliskova vs Anastasia Gasanova

The 3rd-seeded Pliskova won 6-2 7-6 against Despina Papamichail. The Czech won 86% of her first-serve points. With a new coach, Sascha Bajin this year who has previously worked with Naomi Osaka, Pliskova will aim to win her first grand slam this year.

Gasanova who mostly plays in ITF tournaments came through the grind of two rounds of qualifying to enter the main draw. She won against Mona Barthel 6-2 6-4 in the first round. The 21-year-old played attacking tennis to unsettle the higher-ranked German. This is the first meeting between Pliskova and Gasanova

All the above-mentioned players will aim to fine-tune their game in Abu Dhabi and cut out the mistakes ahead of the Australian Open beginning on February 8.

Featured Image Credits - Tennis Talk - YouTube

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