World number 19 Elena Rybakina will take on the 72nd-ranked Daria Kasatkina in the third round of the 2021 WTA Abu Dhabi on Sunday, January 10, with the match likely to begin at around 2:30 pm local time (8:30 am Eastern Time). Get the live streaming options of this Elena Rybakina v Daria Kasatkina match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Elena Rybakina v Daria Kasatkina Head to Head
This will be the second match between these two players with the first having gone the Kasatkina way. It came in the 2020 Ostrava Open, one of the last tournaments of the season where the exhausted Rybakina fell to a three-set loss in the first round.
Rybakina Makes it Another Straight-Set Win
It’s been a straightforward journey for Rybakina so far, having faced opponents ranked rather low on the WTA charts which in turn has allowed her to ease into the new season.
After having gotten past Lucrezia Stefanini in straight sets in the first round, Rybakina made it successive matches in which she was largely untroubled as she overcame Xiyu Wang 6-4, 6-4 to make it to the third round.
All she needed was a break of serve in each of the two sets, rarely facing a break-point in return and coming through in an hour and 32 minutes against the 123rd-ranked Chinese player.
This follows a solid season for Rybakina in which she added to her WTA title tally by winning the Hobart International competition but more importantly showed consistency in reaching the finals of five such tournaments spread across hard and clay courts.
Rybakina now faces her first real threat of the competition but even that comes in the form of a player ranked 72nd in the world.
Kasatkina Showing Sparks of Good Form
The reason we are calling Kasatkina a threat despite being 72nd on the WTA Rankings is two-fold.
One, Kasatkina is a former world number 10 and being just 23 years old, it’s not a matter of the best being beyond her. Secondly, the Russian has shown flickers of her old form, starting with the last few weeks of the previous season and now in Abu Dhabi.
Here, in the UAE, Kasatkina began by defeating Wang Qiang, a player of high pedigree even if she has fallen in the rankings because of her absence during the pandemic last season. This opening round win had followed Kasatkina going through the qualifiers at both Ostrava and Rome last season to make the second round.
Needing to break her second round woes, having last gone past that mark in March 2020 in Lyon, Kasatkina was fortunate to receive a walkover from Karolina Muchova, but it means she would have had an extra day to recover from her opening round three-setter.
Can she test the in-form, superior-ranked Rybakina though?
Rybakina v Kasatkina Prediction and Tip
Rybakina is 1/2 to win this which isn’t much of a surprise but I would have thought that offers a good value in itself. If you want a slightly riskier one, look at the games market, with over 21.5 game being at 10/11.
Tip: Rybakina to win: 1/2 (bet365)