Fixture: (5) Aryna Sabalenka vs Daria Kasatkina
Date: 2 May 2021
Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 32)
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Category: WTA 1000
Prize money: €2,549,105
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Aryna Sabalenka vs Daria Kasatkina preview
Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka takes on the resurgent Daria Kasatkina in a blockbuster second-round contest at the Madrid Open on Sunday.
Sabalenka has brought her rich vein of form into the clay season. The Belarusian made it to the final at Stuttgart last week, where she went down to World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in three sets.
The defeat didn't demoralize Sabalenka though, and she has made a strong start to her Madrid campaign. The 22-year-old needed just 66 minutes to swat aside former World No. 2 Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-2 on Friday.
Up next for Sabalenka is a familiar foe - Daria Kasatkina. After losing to the Belarusian at the Australian Open this year, Kasatkina has been on a splendid run of her own.
The former top 10 player won two of her next three tournaments - the Phillip Island Trophy and St. Petersburg - to get back into the top 40. Kasatkina is now looking to bring her renewed confidence into the clay season.
In her Madrid opener on Friday, the Russian gave a thorough demonstration of her mental fortitude and fighting skills. After battling for nearly three hours, Kasatkina managed to douse the challenge of Irina-Camelia Begu 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(1).
Aryna Sabalenka vs Daria Kasatkina head-to-head
Aryna Sabalenka leads Daria Kasatkina 2-1 in their head-to-head. The Russian won their first-ever meeting at the China Open in 2019, but Sabalenka has dominated the rivalry since.
The Belarusian got the better of Kasatkina 7-6(6), 6-0 at 2020 Roland Garros, and followed that up with a 7-6(5), 6-3 win at this year's Australian Open.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Daria Kasatkina prediction
This will be a match of contrasting styles. While Aryna Sabalenka likes to hit through her opponents with raw power, Daria Kasatkina uses her topspin forehand to engage in long baseline rallies before pulling the trigger.
Kasatkina also likes to mix things up with her slice and drop shot - a tactic that could disrupt the charge of the Sabalenka juggernaut.
That said, the high altitude at Madrid will give an edge to Sabalenka and her attacking game. Besides, having played a three-hour marathon, Kasatkina could possibly be tired on Sunday, thus tilting the balance further in Sabalenka's favor.
Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in two tight sets.