Fixture: (7) Aryna Sabalenka vs Daria Kasatkina
Date: 10 February 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 64)
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor Hardcourt
Prize money: AUD $80 million
Live Telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | India - Sony Six
Aryna Sabalenka vs Daria Kasatkina preview
Sabalenka's dream start to the year was interrupted by Estonia's Kaia Kanepi last week at the Gippsland Trophy. The Belarusian had built a stunning 15-match winning streak that included title runs at Ostrava and Linz in 2020 and Abu Dhabi in 2021, but Kanepi dealt her a blow as she sent her packing 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.
Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise for Sabalenka though. The 22-year-old entered the Australian Open without the pressure of extending her streak, and that showed in her impeccable display on Monday.
Sabalenka powered 21 winners past World No. 98 Viktoria Kuzmova for a 6-0, 6-4 first-round win.
Russia's Daria Kasatkina, meanwhile, has never been able to recapture the form that took her to No. 10 in the world rankings back in 2018. The 23-year-old, who has two titles to her name, hasn't reached a single final on the WTA tour in the past one year.
Kasatkina entered the Australian Open on the back of a couple of pre-quarterfinal losses, in Abu Dhabi and Melbourne. But she still managed to put up a confident performance as she blew away World No. 371 Katie Boulter 6-1, 6-4 in the first round.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Daria Kasatkina head-to-head
Aryna Sabalenka and Daria Kasatkina are locked at 1-1 in their head-to-head record.
The Russian emerged victorious in their first-ever showdown on the hardcourts of Beijing in 2019, recording a 6-4, 7-6(5) win. But Sabalenka turned the tables on her the very next year at Roland Garros, running past Kasatkina 7-6(6), 6-0.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Daria Kasatkina prediction
This will be a match of contrasting styles. While Aryna Sabalenka thrives on power, Daria Kasatkina hits with heavy topspin and can throw in the occasional slice.
The Russian will look to disrupt Sabalenka's rhythm with her variety, and the Belarusian doesn't enjoy playing against such opponents.
That said, Sabalenka has come into this tournament with a lot of momentum behind her. In contrast, Kasatkina has been struggling for consistency for quite a while now, which is a worrying sign against such an in-form player.
Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in two tight sets.