Date: 11 January 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021 qualifiers
Round: First round
Venue: Dubai, UAE
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Match timing: Approx. 2 pm local time, 3.30 pm IST
Mihaela Buzarnescu vs Lara Arruabarrena preview
Former top 20 player Mihaela Buzarnescu is one of the dangerous floaters in the draw for the 2021 Australian Open qualifiers, which got underway on Sunday.
A series of injuries and time off court saw the Romanian drop out of the top 100, but she will be keen on making a comeback. A former winner of the WTA Premier event in San Jose alongside 22 ITF titles, the 32-year-old Buzarnescu is definitely someone to watch out for.
First up for Buzarnescu is another seasoned campaigner in the form of Spain's Lara Arruabarrena, who is also seeking a return to the main draw of a Grand Slam event.
Arruabarrena missed the cut last year, losing in the final round of qualifiers to Japan's Nao Hibino. Her fortunes failed to improve as the year progressed; the Spaniard also bowed out of the qualifiers for the French Open, continuing her poor run in Majors.
A new season might just come with a shot at course correction, and a solid showing here will get her started on the right foot.
Mihaela Buzarnescu vs Lara Arruabarrena head-to-head
Mihaela Buzarnescu leads the head-to-head against Lara Arruabarrena by a slender 2-1 margin. Arruabarrena won the first meeting between the two players (which was way back in 2009), but the Romanian has managed to take their last two meetings in straight sets.
The two women haven't played each other on a hardcourt before though; all their previous matches were on European clay.
Mihaela Buzarnescu vs Lara Arruabarrena prediction
This one could be a tight match as Mihaela Buzarnescu and Lara Arruabarrena have a somewhat similar style of play, characterized by nimble footwork and a strong all-court game.
That said, Buzarnescu is a little more proactive on the court. The Romanian can also flatten her groundstrokes more easily, and that should help her greatly on the slightly faster hardcourts in Dubai.
With not a lot of match wins under their belt, this could prove to be a mental battle as well. And that's where Arruabarrena might have an edge.
The Spaniard is also the more patient of the two women, and likes to play her way into points. Her physical fitness is one of her strongest assets, and that, added with her temperament, could shift the tide in her favor.
Prediction: Lara Arruabarrena to win in three sets.