Marketa Vondrousova vs. Saisai Zheng, Doha R1 Preview

Qatar Total Open, Doha R1 Preview + prediction:
🇨🇿 (12) Marketa Vondrousova vs. 🇨🇳 Saisai Zheng

The 12th seeded Marketa Vondrousova begins her 2020 Qatar Total Open campaign with an opening round clash against China’s Saisai Zheng. Vondrousova arrives in Doha fresh from a bitterly disappointing second round exit in Dubai at the hands of Jennifer Brady, Vondrousova led that match by a set and a double break before collapsing, the 2019 Roland Garros runner-up will be hoping for a strong response here.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Vondrousova in her return to the WTA tour after injury side-lined her for the second half of 2019. Vondrousova recently suffered back-to-back opening round exits at the Australian Open and in St. Petersburg. The 20-year-old snapped her 3-match losing run in Dubai last week where she comfortably defeated Anastasija Sevastova in the opening round before succumbing to Jenifer Brady 4-6 6-4 6-1 despite leading by a set and 4-1.

Saisai Zheng has made a mostly modest start to the 2020 season. Zheng has a 3-4 win/loss record in 2020, Zheng arrives in Doha on the back of an opening round exit at in the qualifying draw in Dubai where she was beaten by Katerina Siniakova in straight sets. Prior to that Zheng was easily beaten by Patricia Maria Tig in Hua Hin where she played an awful match. Zheng did however reach the final of the doubles event in Dubai.

Vondrousova comfortably defeated Zheng in their only previous meeting, a 6-2 6-3 win on grass in Eastbourne last year.

I’m going to side with Vondrousova here. I believe this is a good match-up for Vondrousova. Zheng usually relies on her versatility to undo her opponents but that is unlikely to happen with Vondrousova. The Czech player can better the versatility of Zheng whilst possessing far more power and attacking weapons. Zheng’s net charging tactics will also backfire here as Vondrousova loves a target at the net. Vondrousova is better in all departments and should be smart enough to get through this one pretty comfortably.

Prediction: Marketa Vondrousova to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets
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Karolina Muchova vs. Magda Linette, Doha R1 Preview

Qatar Total Open, Doha R1 Preview + prediction:
🇨🇿 Karolina Muchova vs. 🇵🇱 Magda Linette

Karolina Muchova and Magda Linette will renew their rivalry when they do battle at the opening round stage of the 2020 Qatar Total Open in Doha. Muchova and Linette both claimed victories over each other during their respective runs to maiden titles in 2019. Linette defeated Muchova at the quarter-final stage in the Bronx before winning the title, Muchova avenged that loss in the Seoul final a few months later, who will edge ahead in the head-to-head series with a win in their third career meeting?

Karolina Muchova has made a very disappointing start to her 2020 campaign and arrives in Doha in desperate need of a strong run. Muchova ended 2019 as one of the form players on tour but has certainly failed to rediscover that form in the new year. Muchova has only won 1 match in 2020, most recently she was beaten by Katerina Siniakova in 3 sets in Dubai last week in the first round, Muchova failed to win a single game in the deciding set, a very deflating way to lose.

Magda Linette arrives in Doha full of confidence having just won her second career title in Hua Hin a few weeks ago. It was a fantastic week for Linette in Hua Hin where she dropped just 1 set on route to winning the title. Linette’s run in Hua Hin will be a big boost for Pole given she previously made a poor start to the year; Linette will be hoping to continue to gain momentum in Doha.

The head-to-head record between Muchova and Linette is split at 1 win apiece. Both meetings took place in 2019, It was Linette who emerged victorious in the Bronx with a 6-7 6-4 7-6 victory. Muchova then dominated Linette in the championship match in Seoul, a 6-1 6-1 win for the Czech.

I’m going to side with Linette here. It is Linette who brings far superior form and confidence into this match. On Paper this is a very even match-up, so the superior form and confidence of Linette means she is the favourite here. Muchova is really struggling to find her game at the moment and will find life tough in this match against the Pole who gives very little away. Expect Linette to be too solid on this occasion, Muchova doesn’t seem efficient enough at the moment to get past such a solid, in-form opponent.

Prediction: Magda Linette to defeat Karolina Muchova in 3 sets
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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Yulia Putintseva, Doha R1 Preview

Qatar Total Open, Doha R1 Preview + prediction:
🇷🇺 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. 🇰🇿 Yulia Putintseva

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Yulia Putintseva will go head-to-head for the first time in over 3 years when they meet at the opening round stage of the 2020 Qatar Total Open. It is Pavlyuchenkova who will head into this clash as the strong favourite. Pavlyuchenkova has made a stronger start to the season, the Russian notably reached the final 8 at the Australian Open and has also won the only 2 previous meetings between the pair.

Pavlyuchenkova arrives in Doha fresh from a second round exit in Dubai. Pavlyuchenkova made a miracle comeback in her opening round match, the Russian dropped the first 19 points to Belinda Bencic but flipped the script to claim a memorable 1-6 6-1 6-1 victory over the fourth seed. Unfortunately, Pavlyuchenkova was unable to keep her run going in Dubai, beaten by Anett Kontaveit 6-7 5-7 despite being up a break of serve in each set.

Yulia Putintseva had made a decent start to her 2020 campaign. Putintseva claimed a few good wins at the Australian Open over Su-Wei Hsieh and Danielle Collins before succumbing to Simona Halep in straight sets. Putintseva arrives in Doha fresh from a week off after her disappointing opening round exit in St. Petersburg to Veronika Kudermetova in 3 sets.

Pavlyuchenkova holds a perfect 2-0 record over Putintseva. Both of the previous matches between the two took place in 2016, a 7-5 6-1 victory for Pavlyuchenkova at Wimbledon followed by a 6-4 1-6 7-5 win at the Rogers Cup.

I’m going to side pretty confidently with Pavlyuchenkova. It is Pavlyuchenkova who has made the brighter start to the year and who is favoured by the conditions and match-up. Pavlyuchenkova is more dangerous on a hard court and should be too powerful for Putintseva. Pavlyuchenkova’s strong baseline game will cause Putintseva all types of problems, especially the Russian’s aggressive return of serve which will expose Putintseva’s weak serve. Once Pavlyuchenkova gets in a big first strike it will be hard for Putintseva to recover in the rally on this surface. Pavlyuchenkova should win this easily.

Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Yulia Putintseva in 2 sets
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Simona Halep vs. Elena Rybakina, Dubai Final Preview

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Final Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇰🇿 Elena Rybakina

The final of the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Tennis championships promises to be an exciting one when the top seeded Simona Halep takes on a red-hot Elena Rybakina. Halep will enter this match as the favourite but is unlikely to have things all her own way against a player that has already won 19 matches in 2020. Will Halep win her first tile since capturing her second major at Wimbledon last year?

Simona Halep made a shaky start to her 2020 Dubai campaign but has improved her level in every single match. The reigning Wimbledon champion made an especially slow start in her opening round match against Ons Jabeur but rallied to save match point on route to a 1-6 6-2 7-6 win. The top seed was again forced to come from behind in the quarter-finals where she avenged her loss to Aryna Sabalenka in Adelaide with a 3-6 6-2 6-2 win. Halep produced her most commanding performance at the semi-final stage with a dominant 6-2 6-0 win over an in-form Jennifer Brady.

Elena Rybakina is through to her fourth final of 2020, more than anyone else on tour. This is the second time Rybakina has reached back-to-back finals in 2020, the first time she was able to win the title in her second final, can she do it again in Dubai? Rybakina has been in fine form this week, the Kazakh started the week with a 3 set win over the 5th seeded Sofia Kenin before cruising past Katerina Siniakova in straight sets. Rybakina made another big move in the quarter-finals where she upset the second seeded Karolina Pliskova 7-6 6-3 before booking her spot in the championship match with a hard-fought 7-6 7-6 win over Petra Martic, Rybakina fought from a break down in each set in her win over Martic.

I’m going to side with Halep here. Rybakina is yet to consistently prove herself against top level counter-punchers. This is arguably Rybakina’s biggest test of the year thus far, I think it will to be a troublesome match-up for the 20-year-old. Halep is getting stronger and stronger and seemingly enters this final in perfect shape. Rybakina has played a heap of tennis over the last few weeks which is a concern coming up against one of the most physical opponents on tour. The relentless pressure from Halep thanks to her consistency and stamina will be too much for Rybakina to handle.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Elena Rybakina in 2 sets
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Petra Martic vs. Elena Rybakina, Dubai SF Preview

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, SF Preview
🇭🇷 (8) Petra Martic vs. 🇰🇿 Elena Rybakina

The 8th seeded Petra Martic comes up against a red-hot Elena Rybakina in Friday’s first semi-final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Martic arrived in Dubai in poor form but has flipped the script to reach her first semi-final since Zhengzhou in September last year. Conversely, Rybakina arrived in Dubai in awesome form having just reached the St. Petersburg final, the Kazakh is showing no signs of letting up and is now into her fourth semi-final of the year.

Petra Martic is the only player to reach the semi-final stage in Dubai without dropping a set. Martic started the event with a 6-4 6-3 win over lucky-loser Su-Wei Hsieh before cruising past Barbora Strycova 6-3 6-3. Martic secured her spot in the semi-finals with a 7-6 6-1 win over Anett Kontaveit. This has been an important week for Martic given her slow start to the season, something to build on.

Elena Rybakina is arguably the form player on the WTA tour. Rybakina has amassed an 18-3 win/loss record in 2020. The 20-year-old won her maiden title on the WTA tour in Hobart last month and has also made finals in Shenzhen and St. Petersburg. Rybakina started her Dubai campaign with a 6-7 6-3 6-3 win over reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin. Rybakina eased past Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-3 in the second round before booking her spot in the final 4 with a 7-6 6-3 win over the second seeded Karolina Pliskova.

This will be the first career meeting between Martic and Rybakina.

Form says Rybakina will win this, but I’m going to give the slight edge to Martic. I think this could be a troublesome match-up for Rybakina based on a couple of her losses this year. Rybakina was easily beaten by Ash Barty and Kiki Bertens over the last month, Martic posses a similar threat with her versatile game, notably her backhand slice, drop shots, and touch at the net. Rybakina has played a lot of tennis lately and may not have enough left in the tank to get the better of a tricky opponent.

Prediction: Petra Martic to defeat Elena Rybakina in 3 sets
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Simona Halep vs. Jennifer Brady, Dubai SF Preview

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, SF Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simon Halep vs. 🇺🇸 (Q) Jennifer Brady

Simona Halep continues her quest for a second Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title when she comes up against Jennifer Brady in Friday’s second semi-final. Halep and Brady have both come through some extremely tight matches to get through to the final 4 in Dubai, both have been forced to fight from a set down in their two previous matches. Halep defeated Brady earlier this year in Melbourne, can the Romanian repeat that result in Dubai?

Simona Halep is building into some top form in Dubai. Halep came through a big scare in her opening round match where she saved a match point in a dramatic final set tiebreak to defeat Ons Jabeur 1-6 6-2 7-6. Halep was again overpowered in the early exchanges of her quarter-final clash with Aryna Sabalenka but raised her level to claim an important 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory. Halep was striking the ball fantastically in the final set against Sabalenka, if she can continue that form she will win the title this week.

Jennifer Brady is into her first semi-final at a premier level event. Brady has done it the hard way having come through qualifying. Brady eased through the qualifying draw without dropping a set with wins over Kristyna Pliskova, Gabriela Dabrowski and Su-Wei Hsieh, before starting her main draw campaign with a 6-2 6-1 thrashing of the third seeded Elina Svitolina. Brady made a great escape in her second round match, coming from a set and 1-4 down to defeat Marketa Vondrousova. The American continued to ride her luck in the quarter-finals, where she against fought from behind to defeat Garbine Muguruza 6-7 6-3 6-4.

Halep has won both of her previous matches against Brady. Halep needed 3 tight sets to get past the American when they first squared off last year at the Rogers Cup, a 4-6 7-5 7-6 win for Halep on that occasion. More recently Halep claimed a 7-6 6-1 victory over Brady at the opening round stage of the Australian Open last month.

I’m going to confidently side with Halep here. Halep was able to beat Brady in straight sets at the Australian Open despite most factors favouring Brady heading into that match. On that occasion it was Brady who was in better form and had a better rhythm coming into the match. Halep still overcame a slow start in Melbourne to win that match. On this occasion, Halep has her rhythm having coming through some tough battles over the last few days. Conversely, Brady is surely going to be fatigued having already played 6 matches this week. Halep loves playing in Dubai where the courts suit her and the crowd loves her. Halep will make this a physical battle where she will be too strong.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Jennifer Brady in 2 sets
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Simona Halep vs. Aryna Sabalenka, Dubai QF Preview

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, QF Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇧🇾 (7) Aryna Sabalenka

A blockbuster quarter-final clash at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday evening is set, the top seeded Simona Halep will come up against the always-dangerous Aryna Sabalenka. This is a big test for Halep, the Romanian only just scrapped through her opening round match in Dubai against Ons Jabeur and was beaten by Sabalenka in straight sets in Adelaide earlier this year. Can Halep get revenge in Dubai?

Simona Halep made a slow start to her 2020 Dubai campaign but came through with a typically gutsy win. The 2015 champion received a bye through the opening round before facing an in-form Ons Jabeur. Halep was dominated in the early exchanges by Jabeur but rallied to claim a 1-6 6-2 7-6 victory, saving a match point in a dramatic final set tiebreak. Halep is still aiming for her first title since Wimbledon last year, perhaps this is the week she will end her run without a title.

Aryna Sabalenka is having a good week in Dubai. Sabalenka arrived in Dubai in desperate need of some victories after a first round exit in Melbourne, that’s exactly what she has got. The 7th seed started her campaign with a hard-fought 6-2 4-6 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari. The Belarussian booked her spot in the final 8 with a commanding 6-4 6-3 win over Elise Mertens. Sabalenka will look to keep the momentum going with another big win over Halep.

Halep holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Sabalenka. It was Halep who won the first couple of meetings between the pair, both in 2018, both in straight sets and both on a hard court. Most recently, it was Sabalenka who claimed a dominant 6-4 6-2 victory over Halep at the quarter-final stage of the Adelaide International in January.

I’m going to side with Halep here. Usually this is a match-up that favours Halep and expect that to be the case here. Halep is always better positioned at a tournament when she is able to come through a tough opening round match, that is exactly what happened at this event after her epic win over Jabeur. The consistency, anticipation and defensive skills of Halep make life tough for Sabalenka. A motivated Halep will have revenge on her mind heading into this one after what happened in Adelaide earlier this year, the top seed will get that revenge.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Aryna Sabalenka in 2 sets
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Simona Halep vs. Ons Jabeur, Dubai R2 Preview

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, R2 Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇹🇳 (wc) Ons Jabeur

The top seeded Simona Halep begins her 2020 Dubai campaign on Wednesday against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. Halep won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in 2015 and will be hoping to replicate that result 5 years later. The Romanian received a bye through the opening round whilst Jabeur came through a tough test against Alison Riske in 3 sets. Will Halep make a positive start to her 2020 Dubai campaign?

Simona Halep made a great start to the season in Australian. The reigning Wimbledon champion reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open and will look to build on that momentum during the Middle Eastern swing. Halep usually performs well at this time of the year having captured the title in both Dubai and Doha, the conditions certainly favour the Romanian.

Ons Jabeur has also made a very bright start to the season. Jabeur made her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open and is arguably playing the best tennis of her career at the moment. Jabeur advanced to the second round in Dubai thanks to a hard-fought 7-6 1-6 6-3 win over Alison Riske, another encouraging with for the Tunisian.

I’m going to give Halep the benefit of the doubt here. Halep hasn’t played a singles match for a couple of weeks and was comfortably defeated in the opening round of the doubles event in Dubai, it is understandable if the Romanian is rusty here. Jabeur is confident and has nothing to lose, the Tunisian isn’t easy to play against and will probably trouble Halep at times. Nevertheless, the consistency and stamina of Halep should eventually prove too much for Jabeur to handle, especially in the critical moments.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Ons Jabeur in 3 sets
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Sofia Kenin vs. Elena Rybakina, Dubai R1 Preview

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, R1 Preview
🇺🇸 (5) Sofia Kenin vs. 🇰🇿 Elena Rybakina

A blockbuster opening round match-up at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday sees reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin come up against a red-hot Elena Rybakina. Kenin and Rybakina are arguably the two form players on tour over the first month and a half of 2020. It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out in the first career meeting between the pair.

The fifth seeded Sofia Kenin will be making her first appearance at a regular WTA event for the first time since winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last month. In the meantime, Kenin did compete in the USA’s 3-2 Fed Cup victory over Latvia last week where she defeated Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets before succumbing to Jelena Ostapenko in 3 sets. Kenin paired up with Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the decisive doubles rubber to guide the USA to victory. Can Kenin continue her rise in Dubai?

Elena Rybakina has already made 3 finals in 2020. Rybakina made back-to-back finals to start the year, Rybakina was runner-up in Shenzhen before winning her first WTA title in Hobart. Rybakina’s run came to an end at the Australian Open where she was beaten by the top seeded Ash Barty in the third round. The 20-year-old arrived in Dubai fresh from a runner-up showing in St. Petersburg where she was comfortably defeated by Kiki Bertens in straight sets. Rybakina now has a 15-3 win/loss record in 2020.

I’m going to side with Kenin here. Firstly, Rybakina only has a day to prepare for this match, having just competed in the St. Petersburg final on Sunday, that’s a short turnaround. Secondly, I think this match-up will favour Kenin. The American has the relentless consistency and versatility to disrupt the powerful game of Rybakina.

Prediction: Sofia Kenin to defeat Elena Rybakina in 2 sets
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Belinda Bencic vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Dubai R1 Preview

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, R1 Preview
🇨🇭 (4) Belinda Bencic vs. 🇷🇺 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

The fourth seeded Belinda Bencic begins her 2020 Dubai campaign on Tuesday with a tough opening round match-up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Bencic, the defending champion in Dubai, has dominated this match-up in the past, but it is Pavlyuchenkova who enters this match with the better form having reached the Australian Open quarter-finals just a few weeks ago.

Belinda Bencic has made an average start to her 2020 campaign but enters Dubai at a career high ranking of 4 in the world. Bencic arrives in Dubai on the back of a disappointing second round loss to Maria Sakkari at the quarter-final stage in St. Petersburg. Bencic has a modest 5-4 win/loss record in 2020 and is under pressure this week as the defending champion.

Pavlyuchenkova has made a strong start to the 2020 season thanks to reaching the final 8 at the Australian Open for the second year in a row. In 2019 Pavlyuchenkova was unable to build on her strong start to the year, the Russian will be hoping to avoid a similar fate in 2020, starting with a good run in Dubai.

Bencic holds a commanding 5-1 head-to-head record over Pavlyuchenkova. Bencic has won the last 4 matches between the pair, including a 3-6 6-1 6-1 victory in the Moscow final last year. Interestingly it was Pavlyuchenkova who won their only previous match on an outdoor hard court, a 6-2 6-4 win in Washington back in 2015.

I’m going to side with Pavlyuchenkova here. Bencic has consistently played average tennis in 2020 and seems to be lacking confidence at the moment. Conversely, Pavlyuchenkova enters this match rested after a great run in Melbourne. The pressure is on Bencic here given her strong record over Pavlyuchenkova and given she is the defending champion this week. The scene is set for Pavlyuchenkova to overpower Bencic.

Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Belinda Bencic in 3 sets
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