World number four and the top seeded Sofia Kenin will be up against the Belgian veteran Kirsten Flipkens in the second round of the 2021 WTA Abu Dhabi. This match will be played on Friday, January 8, with the timings yet to be revealed. Get the live streaming options of this Sofia Kenin v Kirsten Flipkens match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Sofia Kenin v Kirsten Flipkens Head to Head
Kenin has won both the previous two times she played against Flipkens and both her victories came in 2019.
The first was a quarterfinal win at the Hobart International that season before Kenin made it 2-0 on the grass courts of Mallorca.
Kenin Notches up a Gritty Win
While she was an overwhelming favourite going up against the Chinese qualifier and 789th-ranked Zhaoxuan Yang, Kenin didn’t exactly like that in her opening round win here in Abu Dhabi.
Kenin’s 7-6, 6-2 win needed the American nearly two hours for completion and took her 14 games to finally register a break of serve.
In the first set, incidentally, there were no breaks of serves, despite both players getting a few break-points. In fact at 4-4, Yang had a couple of chances to get past Kenin’s serve but the top seed held on, pushed the set into a tie-breaker and finally took a decisive lead in it by breaking her opponent twice to go 5-2 up in it.
The second set was a lot easier for the defending Australian Open champion but even that didn’t pass off without incident.
It took Kenin five deuces in the first game of the second set to get herself a break and then saved six break-points in the second game to consolidate that break. Another break followed soon after and while Yang pulled one back, Kenin managed to wrap it up soon after by getting past her opponent’s serve for the third time in the set.
She now faces a veteran who she has done well against so far.
Flipkens Overturns Set Deficit
Once ranked 13th in the world, Flipkens has seen multiple highs and lows in a tennis career that began all the way back in 2002. Currently she is ranked 86th in the world, coming off a season in which she won a main draw match just twice.
The first of those two came at the Cincinnati Open where she edged out Katerina Siniakova and then at the US Open she overcame Rebecca Peterson in her opener. Unfortunately for Flipkens, opening defeats at the Auckland Open, Hobart International, Australian Open and in Doha before that meant she fell away from her season-best ranking of 72nd.
Coming into the Abu Dhabi Open, Flipkens was 6/4 to usurp Laura Siegemund and those odds lengthened dramatically when she lost the opening set. And when she fell a further 3-1 behind in the second set, it looked like the writing was on the wall.
The experienced and cool-headed Flipkens turned things around from there on to first level things up and then break Siegemund as she served to stay in the second set. And then in the final set she repeated the same by levelling on the breaks of serve before breaking her opponent in the 10th game to clinch the encounter.
Kenin v Flipkens Prediction and Tip
Kenin should, on paper, not have too many worries but there were early sightings of rustiness in her opener. This should allow Flipkens to sneak ahead but to do that over two or three sets might not be too easy for the Belgian.
Tip: Over 18.5 games in the match: 4/5 (bet365)