World number seven Aryna Sabalenka will be up against Viktoria Kuzmova in the opening round of the 2021 Australian Open on Monday, February 8, with the match likely to begin at around 10 am local time (11 pm BST or 6 pm Eastern Time previous day). Get the live streaming options of this Aryna Sabalenka v Viktoria Kuzmova match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Aryna Sabalenka v Viktoria Kuzmova Head to Head
They have played each other twice but neither match came on the WTA circuit. The first was a part of the ITF tour in which Sabalenka triumphed on grass in 2017 and this was followed by Kuzmova clinching a three-setter in a 2018 Fed Cup match.
In-Form Sabalenka Shocked in Melbourne
For someone who has been around for a while in the top 20 and has now hit a career-best of world number seven, Sabalenka wouldn’t be too pleased with her Grand Slam record.
The Belarusian has made it to the fourth round a major just once so far – at the 2018 US Open – coming into this season, there were first, second and third round exits over the three majors she played in respectively. Juxtapose this next to nine WTA titles in a short span of three years and it does sound surprising.
Sabalenka landed in Melbourne for the tune-up tournament on a 15-match winning streak; a streak that had seen her win titles Ostrava and Linz late last season and in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. And then, rather strangely, crashed in the first match she played at the Gippsland Trophy – losing to Kaia Kanepi in the second round in three sets.
It could well be pushed aside as one of those freak results that sometimes player have to take but the question is if she can shrug it in her bid to go deep into the second week of a major.
Kuzmova Unable to Buy Herself a Win
Not too long ago, Kuzmova was ranked 43rd in the world but has now plummeted to 98th and comes into this tournament on the back of some horrid form.
Since making it to the quarterfinal stage of the Lyon Open in early March 2020, just days before the tour was suspended as a result of the pandemic, Kuzmova is yet to win a WTA main draw match.
Among the five tournaments she played last season, Kuzmova failed to qualify for the main draw in one and was a first round victim in the other four. And if she thought things would have changed with the change of year, Kuzmova would have been wrong.
Starting out against Daria Gavrilova in the first round of the Yarra Valley Classic earlier this week, Kuzmova won just two games in the entire match before crashing out of the tournament. It cannot really get too much worse than that.
Sabalenka v Kuzmova Prediction and Tip
No surprises after looking at the contrasting natures of the two players’ form, that Sabalenka starts off 1/25 to win this and is 1/6 to do that in straight sets. Kuzmova would need bit of a miracle to win a set here.
Tip: Sabalenka to win a set: 1/6 (bet365)