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Abu Dhabi 2021: Sofia Kenin vs Maria Sakkari preview, head-to-head & prediction

Sofia Kenin at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women
Sofia Kenin at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open 2021
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 10 Jan 2021, 21:07 IST
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Match details

Fixture: Sofia Kenin vs Maria Sakkari

Date: 11 January 2021

Tournament: Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open 2021

Round: Quarterfinals

Venue: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Category: WTA 500

Surface: Outdoor hardcourt

Prize money: $565,530

Live telecast:  USA - Tennis Channel

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Sofia Kenin vs Maria Sakkari preview

World No. 4 Sofia Kenin takes on Greece's Maria Sakkari in the quarterfinal of the Abu Dhabi Women's Tennis Open 2021 on Monday.

As the reigning Australian Open champion and top seed, Kenin had a lot of expectations on her shoulders coming into Abu Dhabi. However, her performances so far have been rather underwhelming.

The American got off to a shaky start against Zhaoxuan Yang in the first round, but managed to regain her rhythm in time. She then had a stroke of good fortune in the second round against Kirsten Flipkens, as her opponent picked up an untimely injury and was forced to retire despite having a one-set lead.

Things got even more complicated for Kenin in the Round of 16. The World No. 4 was forced to overturn a one-set deficit against Yulia Putintseva, even having to save match point in the second set, before rallying to win 3-6 7-6 6-4.

On the other hand, Kenin's next opponent - ninth seed Maria Sakkari - has been dominant in Abu Dhabi so far.

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Maria Sakkari at the 2020 US Open
Maria Sakkari at the 2020 US Open

The Greek has not been fazed at all by the quality of opposition that has come her way. She has defeated Anastasia Popatova, Coco Gauff and Garbine Muguruza in successive rounds (without dropping a single set), to set up a high-octane quarterfinal against Kenin.

Sofia Kenin vs Maria Sakkari head-to-head

The quarterfinal encounter between the pair is their third match on tour. As things stand, Sofia Kenin leads the head-to-head 2-0 over Maria Sakkari.

Both of their previous encounters came at Grand Slam events in 2018 - the first round at Wimbledon and the second round at the US Open. Kenin got over the line with a tight three-set win on each occasion.

Sofia Kenin vs Maria Sakkari prediction

Maria Sakkari at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women
Maria Sakkari at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open 2021

Sofia Kenin comes into the match as the favorite on paper. But given her shaky performances in Abu Dhabi so far - and Maria Sakkari's explosive form - the result is far from a foregone conclusion.

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There will be plenty of aggressive shot-making on display as Kenin will look to take the initiative with her backhand while Sakkari will try to dominate through her serve and forehand.

The Greek will be hoping to build on her high-profile wins by mounting a potential title challenge, but she will have to be wary of Kenin's defense - which tends to elicit unforced errors from her opponents. That said, Kenin has been far from her best in the tournament so far, despite the quick courts supporting her quick-strike style of play.

Even though the result against Putintseva would have galvanized Kenin, Sakkari's abilities and form make her a much tougher task than any that the American has faced this week.

Prediction: Maria Sakkari to win in three sets.

Published 10 Jan 2021, 21:07 IST
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