Date: 21 October 2021
Tournament: VTB Kremlin Cup
Round: Second round (Round of 16)
Venue: Moscow, Russia
Category: WTA 500
Prize money: $565,530
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel & ESPN | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Maria Sakkari vs Anna Kalinskaya preview
Third seed Maria Sakkari will open her Kremlin Cup campaign against Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya in Moscow on Thursday.
Sakkari will be eager to bounce back from her opening-round defeat at the BNP Paribas Open. The Greek had been enjoying a successful spell prior to arriving at Indian Wells. She reached the semifinals of the US Open for the first time in her career and backed it up with a run to the final at Ostrava.
However, she failed to bring that form to Indian Wells last week and slumped to a 7-5, 3-6, 2-6 defeat at the hands of World No. 45 Viktorija Golubic.
Having risen to a career-high world ranking of No. 7 this week, Sakkari will be looking to make a deep run at the Russian capital.
Meanwhile, World No. 125 Anna Kalinskaya's only memorable result from the first half of the season was at the WTA 250 event in Monterrey, where she made the quarterfinals as a qualifier. It took the 22-year-old a few months to find that form once again as she won five matches on the trot at the BNP Paribas Open, reaching the Round of 16 from the qualifying rounds.
Kalinskaya has managed to carry that momentum this week to the Kremlin Cup. Having beaten Viktoria Kuzmova and Vitalia Diatchenko, she qualified for the main draw of the WTA 500 event, before toppling Dayana Yastremska 7-6(5), 6-4 in the first round.
Maria Sakkari vs Anna Kalinskaya head-to-head
Maria Sakkari and Anna Kalinskaya have never squared off on the tour before, so their head-to-head currently stands at a 0-0 deadlock.
Maria Sakkari vs Anna Kalinskaya prediction
Anna Kalinskaya is the lower-ranked player in this contest but she comes into this match with a lot of confidence. The Russian will look to engage Maria Sakkari in long rallies and draw errors from the Greek's racquet.
Kalinskaya will also need to put in a strong serving display, unlike what she produced against Yastremska in the first round. The Russian served a solitary ace against the Ukrainian but leaked as many as six doubles faults.
A repeat of that against a player of Sakkari's caliber could spell doom for the 22-year-old. The Greek won't hesitate to step up and attack as she aims to make a winning start to her campaign.
Prediction: Maria Sakkari to win in two tight sets.