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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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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