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J&T Banka Ostrava Open 2020: Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka preview, head-to-head & prediction

Coco Gauff during her match against Aryna Sabalenka in Lexington
Coco Gauff during her match against Aryna Sabalenka in Lexington
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 21 Oct 2020, 22:28 IST
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Match details

Fixture: Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka

Date: 22 October 2020

Tournament: J&T Banka Ostrava Open 2020

Round: Second round (Round of 16)

Venue: Ostrava, Czech Republic

Category: WTA Premier

Surface: Indoor hardcourt

Prize money: $528,500

Match timing: Approx. 2 pm CEST, 5.30 pm IST

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Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka preview

Aryna Sabalenka at the 2020 French Open
Aryna Sabalenka at the 2020 French Open

Teenage sensation Coco Gauff takes on third seed Aryna Sabalenka in the second round round of the J&T Ostrava Banka Open on Thursday.

Gauff took the world by storm last year, breaking through on the women's tour at just 15 years of age. Since the lockdown, however, the American has been unable to recreate that blistering form.

The 16-year-old has not made it past the first round of any tournament since Lexington in August. That said, she has had high-profile wins over Ons Jabeur in Rome, Johanna Konta at Roland Garros and her next opponent - Aryna Sabalenka - in Lexington.

Gauff is yet to lose a set in Ostrava, winning both her matches in qualification and her first-round encounter against Katerina Siniakova in straight sets.

Sabalenka comes into the match in slightly better form than her opponent. The Belarusian won her first title of the year in Doha before the pandemic struck. After the resumption of the tour too, Sabalenka reached the semifinal in Strasbourg.

Coco Gauff at the 2020 French Open
Coco Gauff at the 2020 French Open
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The 22-year-old received a bye in the first round in Ostrava, and faces a tough test in the form of Gauff in the second round.

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka head-to-head

The second-round encounter in Ostrava is the second meeting between the two players. Coco Gauff leads the head-to-head 1-0 over Aryna Sabalenka after her triumph in Lexington earlier this year.

The American was the home favorite in that match, and played like it. Despite dropping the second set after winning the first in a tight tiebreak, she prevailed 7-6 4-6 6-4 in one of the many upsets she has caused on tour over the last 18 months.

Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka prediction

Aryna Sabalenka during her match against Coco Gauff in Lexington
Aryna Sabalenka during her match against Coco Gauff in Lexington

Despite her superior ranking, by no means does Aryna Sabalenka have an easy ride in the second round against Coco Gauff. The young American has matured considerably since her remarkable breakthrough and has shown progress both physically and tactically, winning her first title on the indoor hardcourts of Linz last year.

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Gauff has solid groundstrokes off both wings, to go with her excellent footwork and quick movement. She will, however, have to be at her defensive best on Thursday as she will be pitted against one of the biggest hitters on tour.

Sabalenka is a no-holds-barred attacking player with a big first serve and a powerful playing style that suits the surface. The Belarusian can hit winners from any part of the court with her flat groundstrokes, but she also happens to be supremely error-prone - something that Gauff can take advantage of.

Revenge will be on Sabalenka's mind, and she comes into the match with the edge due to her natural power. But given Gauff's penchant for causing upsets, the Belarusian will have to be at her absolute best to get past her.

Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in three sets.

Published 21 Oct 2020, 11:42 IST
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