Fixture: (16) Maria Sakkari vs Karolina Muchova
Date: 4 May 2021
Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021
Round: Third round (Round of 16)
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €2,614,465
Match timing: Not before 8 pm local time, 11.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Maria Sakkari vs Karolina Muchova preview
World No. 20 Karolina Muchova registered her third top 10 win of the season on Sunday, defeating World No. 2 Naomi Osaka in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Muchova won 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 and will next face 16th-seed Maria Sakkari in the third round on Tuesday. Sakkari on her part defeated Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-1 to make it to this stage.
Muchova broke Osaka's serve early in the match, and then held her own to take the opening set. The Czech continued in a similar fashion in the second set by setting up a 3-1 lead for herself.
Osaka, however, improved the quality of her forehand returns to reel off five games in a row and take the match to a decider.
Many felt that Muchova would struggle against Osaka's newfound vigor, especially since her first serve seemed to have deserted her. But the 24-year-old showed why she is currently one of the hottest properties in women's tennis as she outhit Osaka from the baseline throughout the third set.
Muchova completed her win with a sublime kick serve - one of her trademark shots - that drew an error from Osaka's racket. She struck 29 winners overall and got broken just twice in the match.
Maria Sakkari, meanwhile, required just about an hour to oust Anett Kontaveit. Sakkari showed no signs of fatigue from her match against Amanda Anisimova as she swept past Kontaveit with a serving masterclass.
The 25-year-old won a whopping 84.6% of all her service points. She faced a mere two break points throughout the match, and saved both of them.
Maria Sakkari vs Karolina Muchova head-to-head
Maria Sakkari and Karolina Muchova have never crossed paths on the WTA tour, which is why their head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.
They did, however, face each other on the ITF tour in 2016. Sakkari defeated Muchova 6-4, 6-1 in the Sharm El Sheikh 38 event that year.
Maria Sakkari vs Karolina Muchova prediction
Maria Sakkari's raw power was on full display in her win over Anett Kontaveit. Sakkari's groundstrokes, especially on her backhand wing, often took the racket out of the Estonian's hands.
But while Kontaveit seemed to set up camp around the baseline, Karolina Muchova is likely to make full use of the court dimensions. Disrupting Sakkari's rhythm by liberally using the backhand slice could reap rich rewards for the Czech.
That said, Sakkari has enough power to conjure clean winners off even low-pace shots. Muchova would need to be unpredictable with her strategy, and throw in a few topspin backhands and drop shots along with the slice.
The match largely rests on Sakkari's racket though. If she manages to replicate her serving performance from the match against Kontaveit, it will be difficult for Muchova to pip her to the finish line.
Prediction: Maria Sakkari to win in three sets.