Fixture: Victoria Azarenka vs Maria Sakkari
Date: 24 October 2020
Tournament: J & T Banka Ostrava Open 2020
Venue: Ostrava, Czech Republic
Category: WTA Premier
Surface: Indoor hardcourt
Prize money: $528,500
Match timing: Not before 2 pm CEST, 5.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel
Victoria Azarenka vs Maria Sakkari preview
Former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka has been in splendid form on hardcourts this season. The Belarusian won the Cincinnati Masters title, and also finished as the runner-up at the US Open.
Azarenka had an average clay swing though, by her usually high standards. She made it to the Italian Open quarterfinals, but her Roland Garros campaign was ended by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the second round itself.
Now back on quick hardcourts, Azarenka seems to have regained her pre-clay momentum. Although Barbora Krejcikova surprised her in the second round at Ostrava by winning the first set 6-2, the Belarusian bounced back quickly to secure the match in three.
In the quarterfinals, the two-time Australian Open champion tamed seventh seed Elise Mertens for the loss of just five games. She now faces Greece's Maria Sakkari on Saturday for a place in the final.
Not many would have expected Sakkari to reach the Ostrava semifinals, mainly because Elina Svitolina and Ons Jabeur were present in her half. However, the unseeded Greek ousted both Svitolina and Jabeur to set up a clash with Azarenka in the final four.
Sakkari had kicked off her campaign with a straight-sets win over Kristyna Pliskova. She followed that up with a 6-3, 6-3 win against top seed Svitolina, and then a three-set triumph over Jabeur.
Victoria Azarenka vs Maria Sakkari head-to-head
Victoria Azarenka has never faced Maria Sakkari on the WTA Tour before. Thus, their head-to-head record currently stands at 0-0.
Victoria Azarenka vs Maria Sakkari prediction
Victoria Azarenka seemed in excellent touch during the American swing, but she had to work hard for her victory against Krejcikova in her Ostrava opener. The Belarusian had to stave off 14 break points against her unseeded opponent, showing how vulnerable her serve was in that match.
However, Azarenka quickly put those woes behind her as dominated Mertens in the last eight clash. She had a solid 73% win rate on the first serve, and she broke her opponent's serve four times.
But Maria Sakkari has also played very well this week, dropping just one set in her three matches so far. Given the form that both players are in, the semifinal on Saturday is likely to be a close encounter.
All things considered though, Azarenka might just have a little too much consistency and experience for Sakkari.
Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to win in three sets.