World number one Ash Barty was to play Elena Rybakina in their third round of the WTA Doha on Wednesday, February 26 but Rybakina has withdrawn from their contest because of a strain. Barty has been given a bye into the quarterfinals where she will take on the winner of the Muguruza v Yastremska match.
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Ash Barty v Elena Rybakina Head to Head
Rybakina’s only early defeat in this season came at the hands of Ash Barty and that happened at the Australian Open in January. This was also their only career meeting and now they will be playing for the second time in as many months.
Barty Makes a Quick Start in Doha
Returning back to competitive tennis following a break after the Australian Open, Ash Barty had no trouble whatsoever getting past Laura Siegemund in her second round match. This was after a first round bye.
Barty won 6-3, 6-2 in double-quick time and while she did struggle with her first serves, the Aussie did not have too many other problems. She had a first serve of 59.3%, as compared to 69% for Siegemund but still won 69% of her points off it.
And while Barty was broken a couple of times in the second set too, losing both the games on her own serve, she responded with four breaks of her own and won it with ease.
It might not get easier now, however, as she faces the year’s most in-form player on the circuit. Barty will take confidence from the fact she has already beaten her once, however, since that win…
…Rybakina Has Made Two More Finals Since that Barty Loss
Since going down to Barty in the third round at the Australian Open – which was Rybakina’s only early defeat this season – the Kazakh world number 17 has already entered two successive finals. This includes one at the St. Petersburg Open where she defeated Maria Sakkari in the semifinals and the Dubai Tennis Championships last week where Sofia Kenin, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Martic were sent crashing.
This time around though, she has had a very tight opening couple of rounds. For starters she was stretched to three sets by Sorana Cirstea but as the match progressed she was able to take a firm grasp on that encounter and took the final set easily, 6-1.
It was Alison van Uytvanck who had a better chance of knocking her out. However, Rybakina overcame a match-point to overcome the power hitting of van Uytvanck, winning 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(8). Rybakina herself only won the match on her fifth match-point in a match that would have tested her as much mentally as it did physically.
Ash Barty v Elena Rybakina Predictions & Tips
Rybakina is on a roll and sometimes in situations like these no opponent is too strong and even the world number one might not prove as much of a threat as she otherwise would. That said, Barty has taken out Rybakina earlier along with the fact the Kazakh has now played 12 matches in the lat 16 days and the exhaustion would begin to tell. We think despite Rybakina’s solid form, a straight-set win for Barty looks likely.
Tip: Barty to win in straight sets: 5/6 (Click here to get these odds with Unibet)