Tournament: Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open 2021
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Category: WTA 500
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $565,530
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel
Elina Svitolina vs Jessica Pegula preview
The 2021 WTA season opens with the Abu Dhabi Open, where World No. 5 Elina Svitolina is the second seed. Her first-round opponent will be USA’s Jessica Pegula, who is unseeded given that she is ranked No. 63 in the world.
This season will see all WTA event categories named in similar fashion to their ATP counterparts. The Abu Dhabi Open is now a WTA 500 event, signifying that it is between the top-level 1000 (or Masters / Premier 5 / Premier Mandatory) events and the lower-tier 250 (or International) events.
Elina Svitolina will be looking to begin her 2021 hardcourt campaign on a positive note, after having endured a difficult end to 2020. The Ukrainian was among the favorites at Roland Garros after a string of upsets, but she suffered a shock quarterfinal exit at the hands of Nadia Podoroska.
Svitolina ended the year with another unexpected defeat, to Maria Sakkari in her opening match at the Ostrava Open. The Ukrainian would be hoping to brush aside those memories as she looks to come out all guns blazing in 2021.
Elina Svitolina has even availed the services of a psychotherapist for the upcoming season, which she believes will help her deal with the absence of fans. She has also hired a new exercise physiologist, who previously used to work with Pierre Paganini (Roger Federer’s fitness coach).
Jessica Pegula, on the other hand, had a fairly up-and-down season in 2020. Pegula began the year well by making the final of the ASB Classic Open in Auckland. But after that it was mostly downhill for the American, with the only bright spot being her deep run at the Western & Southern Open (where she made the quarterfinals).
Like Elina Svitolina, Jessica Pegula ended 2020 with a defeat - at the hands of Aryna Sabalenka in the French Open first round.
Elina Svitolina vs Jessica Pegula head-to-head
The head-to-head between Elina Svitolina and Jessica Pegula are yet to face each other on the WTA tour, so their head-to-head stands at 0-0.
Elina Svitolina vs Jessica Pegula prediction
Elina Svitolina and Jessica Pegula both enjoy playing on hardcourt, but the Ukrainian has achieved considerably more success. 10 of Svitolina’s 15 WTA titles have come on this surface, and she will be keen to add more to her collection this year.
Svitolina and Pegula share another similarity in that they are both defense-oriented players who look to force the opponent into errors. We can expect a fair amount of crosscourt duels in this encounter, given how solid the two players are from the back of the court.
The key differentiating factor will likely be how well Elina Svitolina serves on the day. The Ukrainian has the better delivery of the two, which can tilt the tie in her favor.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to win in three sets.Published 05 Jan 2021, 18:06 IST