After a straight-sets but tightly contested win over Caroline Dolehide in the first round, Coco Gauff will look to continue her winning momentum in her next match - against Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka.
Sabalenka is seeded second at this tournament, but the unseeded Madison Brengle stretched her to a three-set battle in the first round. The World No. 11 ultimately prevailed over her unfancied opponent with the scoreline of 6-1, 6-7, 6-2.
Sabalenka will face another stiff challenge at the Lexington Open on Wednesday given that Coco Gauff has stunned many big names already in her short career.
Gauff made it to the Round of 16 at this year's Australian Open, where she lost to eventual champion Sofia Kenin. On the other hand, Sabalenka lost in the first round at Melbourne but rebounded to win the Qatar Total Open just before the start of the COVID-19 break.
Both players have a decent record this year, which is why this match promises to be a cracker. The rankings favor the 22-year-old from Minsk but Gauff has already shown she was born for the big stage, so an upset is very much possible.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Coco Gauff head-to-head
This match will be the first meeting between the two players. Coco Gauff isn't yet allowed to play a full schedule because of her age, which has limited her chances of meeting the top players.
Aryna Sabalenka is an aggressive baseliner with a strong serve. She has improved her shot selection over the last few seasons, and unlike her previous matches, she doesn't look to hit a winner with every shot. That would come in particularly handy against a speedy counterpuncher like Gauff, who is always willing to stay in rallies and elicit errors from her opponent.
The American's backhand is her strongest shot, and she will look to redirect Sabalenka's missiles off that wing. Ultimately, however, it might come down to who serves better; if the Belarusian gets a lot of looks at second serves, she could take the game away from Gauff with her strong returns.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Coco Gauff prediction
Aryna Sabalenka is the kind of player who quickly recognizes her mistakes and works on them, so we can expect an improved display from her compared to the first round. Coco Gauff will be a far tougher proposition than Madison Brengle, but Sabalenka has enough firepower to hit the American off the court.
That said, Gauff will likely have the edge in the tight situations, so it wouldn't be surprising to see a close battle.
Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in three sets.Published 12 Aug 2020, 14:47 IST