Fixture: (7) Aryna Sabalenka vs Sara Sorribes Tormo
Date: 12 May 2021
Tournament: Internazionali BNL d'italia 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 32)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: $1,835,490
Match timing: Approx. 12 pm local time, 3.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Aryna Sabalenka vs Sara Sorribes Tormo preview
With the kind of results she has put together this year, it wouldn't be an overstatement to say that Sabalenka is currently enjoying the best phase of her career. Having started the season with the Abu Dhabi title on hardcourt, the Belarusian has gone a step further and proved herself on clay as well.
Sabalenka's desire to improve and her sheer dedication to her craft were evident in her fabulous couple of weeks at Stuttgart and Madrid. Although she faltered against World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the Stuttgart final, the 23-year-old managed to exact revenge in the Spanish capital to win her first-ever title on clay.
Her efforts have been rewarded with a rise to a career-high No. 4 in the world rankings. Armed with a fantastic 24-6 win-loss record for the season, Sabalenka has arrived in Rome as the player to beat.
Sara Sorribes Tormo, meanwhile, brought all of her tenaciousness to her first-round match at the Italian Open against Camila Giorgi on Monday. Battling for 3 hours 51 minutes, the Spaniard got past Giorgi 7-6(4), 6-7(7), 7-5 in what was the sixth longest WTA match of the Open Era.
Sorribes Tormo's fighting spirit has played a big part in her success this year. The 24-year-old won her maiden WTA title at Guadalajara, and also made the semis at Monterrey and the quarters at both Miami and Abu Dhabi.
Even though the switch to clay was a little tough for her initially, Sorribes Tormo seems to have found her range on the slower surface now. The Spaniard would be feeling good about her game heading into the clash with Sabalenka.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Sara Sorribes Tormo head-to-head
Aryna Sabalenka leads Sara Sorribes Tormo by a margin of 1-0 in their head-to-head. Sabalenka registered a topsy-turvy 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over Sorribes Tormo at Ostrava last year, in what has been their only encounter so far.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Sara Sorribes Tormo prediction
By dint of ranking and recent form, Aryna Sabalenka is the favorite to win this match. But if their previous showdown is anything to go by, the Belarusian cannot afford to take Sara Sorribes Tormo lightly.
Sabalenka had no answer to the Spaniard in the first set of their Ostrava match. And that was a hardcourt meeting; Sabalenka would be fully aware that Sorribes Tormo could be an even tougher opponent on clay.
The Spaniard's topspin forehand, incredible defense and never-ending stamina make her a dangerous foe on this surface. Sorribes Tormo would be a very tough nut to crack if she gets the chance to settle into the match.
For Sabalenka the key would be to strike some decisive early blows. She would, in particular, look to attack her opponent's relatively weak serve in order to prevent her from getting into a rhythm.
After being involved in a near 4-hour duel on Monday, Sorribes Tormo might start feeling the effects of fatigue sooner or later. If Sabalenka can stay focused right from the start and keep putting consistent pressure on her opponent, she should be able to come through this one.
Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in two tight sets.