??? Internationaux de Strasbourg – SF #1 preview + prediction
?? (5) Elena Rybakina vs. ?? Nao Hibino
Elena Rybakina will be aiming to reach her 5th final of the season when she comes up against Nao Hibino in Friday’s first semi-final at the Internationaux de Strasbourg. Conversely Hibino will be aiming to reach her first final of the year, her first final since Hiroshima late last year and her first ever tour level final on a clay court. Rybakina comes into this match as a strong favourite, but Hibino has defied the odds all week, can she do it again?
Elena Rybakina has stormed into the final 4 in Strasbourg without dropping a set. The 5th seed has claimed straight set wins over Greet Minnen, Alize Cornet and Shuai Zhang. Rybakina has won all 4 of her previous semi-finals in 2020, can she make it 5 from 5?
Nao Hibino is having her greatest week on clay court. The Japanese player stared the week with an upset 3 set victory over the 8th seeded Sloane Stephens before claiming a pair of straight set wins over Zarina Diyas and Jelena Ostapenko.
The only previous meeting between the pair tool place at the final qualifying stage of Roland Garros last year, Rybakina won that match 7-5 7-5. Rybakina has improved dramatically since then, now an established top 20 player and still on the rise.
I suspect this will be a closer match than expected. Rybakina should win, but Hibino won’t be a pushover. Rybakina has the stronger game, especially behind her serve, but Hibino can match Rybakina from the baseline where she has looked very strong all week, if the Japanese player can get into enough neutral rallies, she has a decent chance in matchup where there is nothing to lose, I’ll go for the upset.
Prediction: Nao Hibino to defeat Elena Rybakina in 3 sets