World number 10 Aryna Sabalenka will be hunting for another win to add to her streak when she takes on the 22nd-ranked Maria Sakkari in the 2021 WTA Abu Dhabi semifinal on Tuesday, January 12. Get the live streaming options of this Aryna Sabalenka v Maria Sakkari match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Aryna Sabalenka v Maria Sakkari Head to Head
In four previous encounters between these two players, Sabalenka has won three and lost one to Sakkari.
It began with the Cincinnati Open in 2019 where Sakkari defeated Sabalenka in three sets, before the latter had her revenge at the year-end WTA Elite Trophy that year. Then in 2020, Sabalenka got the better of Sakkari in Dubai and Doha again.
Sabalenka Stretched but Goes Past Rybakina
It took Sabalenka nearly two hours and three sets but she finally managed to get past the in-form Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals.
It started with a keen tussle in the first set, which saw neither player earn any break-points across the first nine games of the encounter before Sabalenka broke Rybakina in the 10th. Serving to stay in the set, Rybakina dropped her serve to love.
Not to be outdone, Rybakina immediately broke Sabalenka in the first game of the second set, and when she made it 4-1 with a second such break, the writing was on the wall. Sabalenka reduced the advantage by breaking back once but lost the set by the same margin, 6-4.
The final set saw Sabalenka dish out to Rybakina a taste of her own medicine by breaking her in the second game and this time around, held that advantage till the very end, wrapping up a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory and a march into the semifinals.
Here she faces another in-form opponent who has looked like a serious title-contender all tournament.
Sakkari Stuns Sofia
Despite being the top seed, an Australian Open 2020 winner and the runnerup the French Open last season, Sofia Kenin would have known she was going to have a battle on her hands when she drew Sakkari for their quarterfinal.
And that’s because Sakkari has shown the kind of sparkle very few have this early into the season while Kenin herself had been struggling to get past opponents.
Which is why when the favourite Sakkari – yes, she was 4/5 to win it – went down that easily in the first set, losing 6-2, there were many who were surprised.
Sakkari, however, has had a kind of tournament where it would have been a bigger surprise had she not put up a better fight. After all, wins over Anastasia Potapova, Cori Gauff and Garbine Muguruza don’t come easy, not when you win in straight sets.
And fight she did.
The Greek number one came back to rout Kenin in the next two sets, winning 12 of the next 14 games to seal a place in the semifinal. Her semifinal opponent will, however, be step-up from all those whom she has played before this.
Sabalenka v Sakkari Prediction and Tip
Sabalenka starts off at 8/13 at the time of writing and we think it would be a lot closer than that, with Sakkari expected to win a set.
Tip: Sakkari to win a set: 1/2 (bet365)