Fixture: (1) Sofia Kenin vs Kirsten Flipkens
Date: 8 January 2021
Tournament: Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open 2021
Round: Round of 32 (Second round)
Venue: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Category: WTA 500
Prize money: $565,530
Match timing: 1 pm local time, 2.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Sofia Kenin vs Kirsten Flipkens preview
Top seed Sofia Kenin will look to shake off her early-season rust as she takes on World No. 86 Kirsten Flipkens in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Open on Friday.
The Australian Open champion was expected to cruise through her first-round contest with Zhaoxuan Yang. But in reality, it turned out to be a much tougher contest.
Kenin needed some time to find her range on the fast courts of Abu Dhabi, especially since the conditions were quite windy. The World No. 4 failed to find a service break in the tight first set against the 789th-ranked player; it took her 14 games to finally get that elusive break, before she wrapped up a 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory.
But even though Kenin struggled to deliver the final punch against her opponent on Thursday, she should be pretty happy about the 11 aces she managed to produce. That kind of serving should stand her in good stead on these fast courts as the tournament progresses.
Kenin's next opponent is tour veteran Kirsten Flipkens. The 34-year-old had a stellar season back in 2013, peaking at No. 13 and reaching the Wimbledon semifinals, and also produced a couple of solid seasons following that. Over the last few years, however, Flipkens hasn't been too successful in singles.
The Belgian's primary focus has switched to doubles now, where she is currently ranked 30th. She came into the Abu Dhabi tournament without any singles quarterfinal appearances for over a year.
But that didn't deter her from producing a resilient showing against Laura Siegemund in the first round. Flipkens trailed the German by a set and a break before using her vast experience to turn things around and eke out a hard-fought 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 victory.
Sofia Kenin vs Kirsten Flipkens head-to-head
Sofia Kenin holds a flawless 2-0 record over Kirsten Flipkens, having won both their meetings in 2019.
The first contest between the two took place on the hardcourts of Hobart, where the young American emerged a 7-5, 7-5 winner. A few months later, she had a much easier time on the grasscourts of Mallorca, where she sailed to a 6-2, 6-3 victory.
Sofia Kenin vs Kirsten Flipkens prediction
Sofia Kenin is the overwhelming favorite coming into this match because of her ranking and her recent achievements. Kenin has also proven she can get results even without producing her best; she couldn't get a grip on the match in the first round, but still racked up a whopping 45 winners.
While that would undoubtedly be a confidence-booster, the American herself would know she has plenty of work to do. Out of 12 break point opportunities against Yang, Kenin could convert a meager three chances. That is one area which needs immediate attention, as she cannot afford to be so wasteful against quality opponents.
Kirsten Flipkens will look to use her agility and her serve-and-volley game to disrupt Kenin's rhythm. That said, the French Open runner-up will likely have enough variety up her sleeve to shut the door on Flipkens.
Prediction: Sofia Kenin to win in straight sets.