Fixture: (16) Maria Sakkari vs Amanda Anisimova
Date: 30 April 2021
Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Category: WTA 1000
Prize money: €2,549,105
Match timing: 11 am local time, 2.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Maria Sakkari vs Amanda Anisimova preview
16th seed Maria Sakkari will open her 2021 Madrid Open campaign with a blockbuster first-round match against former French Open semifinalist Amanda Anisimova.
Sakkari has been going great guns so far in 2021. She has made the semifinals in three of her seven events this year, with the biggest one coming at the Miami Open.
The World No. 19 gave a thorough demonstration of her power tennis in the Floridian City. She ended Naomi Osaka's unbeaten streak with a commanding performance, before falling to Bianca Andreescu in a close three-setter.
But Sakkari hasn't had a great start to her clay season, falling to Petra Kvitova in the second round at Stuttgart last week.
The Greek will look to make amends this week, and put together a deep run in Madrid. But she will have to get into the groove right from the start, for she faces a very dangerous opponent in the first round.
Amanda Anisimova has had a few misfortunes at the start of the season. She tested positive for COVID-19 in February, which forced her to miss the Australian Open. The 19-year-old then unfortunately fell and hurt her ankle, resulting in more tournament withdrawals.
Having played just four events this year, Anisimova is woefully short of match practice. That said, her fighting three-set losses to Bianca Andreescu at Miami and Shelby Rogers at Charleston showed what she is capable of.
It likely won't be long before the American is able to end up on the winning side of these marathon matches.
Maria Sakkari vs Amanda Anisimova head-to-head
Maria Sakkari leads Amanda Anisimova 1-0 in their head-to-head. The Greek crushed the American teenager 6-3, 6-1 in their third-round meeting at the US Open last year.
Maria Sakkari vs Amanda Anisimova prediction
This is an exciting matchup between two of the hardest hitters of the ball. Both Maria Sakkari and Amanda Anisimova rely on their powerful groundstrokes and all-round aggressive play to blast their opponents off the court.
However, Sakkari has been the more consistent of the two over the past few months. The World No. 19 has been playing with a certain confidence and composure that have helped her rack up a bunch of big wins of late.
The heavily-built Sakkari has the advantage in the serve department too. She regularly elicits short returns off her big first serve, which gives her control of a large number of rallies.
Sakkari has also improved her movement and defense in recent times, so Anisimova cannot afford to play it safe with her groundstrokes. The American has to hit with consistent depth and constantly vary the direction and spin of her shots, in order to prevent Sakkari from getting into a baseline groove.
However, doing that repeatedly against an in-form player might be easier said than done.
Prediction: Maria Sakkari to win in two tight sets.