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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