Fixture: Aryna Sabalenka vs Magda Linette
Date: 25 July 2021
Tournament: Olympics 2021
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Ariake Tennis Park, Tokyo, Japan
Category: Olympic Games
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Match timing: 11 am local time, 7.30 am IST, 2 am GMT, 10 pm EST
Live telecast: USA - NBC & Peacock TV | UK - BBC TV | India - Sony Liv
Aryna Sabalenka vs Magda Linette preview
Third seed Aryna Sabalenka will open her 2021 Tokyo Olympics campaign with a first-round encounter against Magda Linette on Sunday.
Playing in her first Olympic Games, Sabalenka has landed in the packed top half of the draw. The Belarusian is fresh off a career-best semifinal run at the Wimbledon Championships, and is one of the firm contenders for a medal here in Tokyo.
Sabalenka does, however, face a stern test right off the bat in the form of the tenacious Linette.
Linette will be playing in her second Olympics, having made her debut in Rio five years ago. The Pole had suffered a straight-sets defeat at the hands of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova back then, and will be hopeful of a better showing this year.
After a slow start to the season, Linette hit her stride in the lead-up to Roland Garros. The 29-year-old hired Dawid Celt as her full-time coach, and the partnership yielded immediate results.
Linette reached the semifinals in Strasbourg and even recorded top-10 wins over Ashleigh Barty and Elina Svitolina. Needless to say, she will enter this first-round contest brimming with confidence.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Magda Linette head-to-head
Aryna Sabalenka leads Magda Linette in their current head-to-head with a slender 1-0 margin. The Belarusian took a straight-sets win in the duo's only prior meeting, which came at the 2018 Tianjin Open.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Magda Linette prediction
Both Aryna Sabalenka and Magda Linette enjoy playing on hardcourts, and have secured some of their biggest results while playing in Asia. Sabalenka in particular has done particularly well in this part of the world, winning titles in both Wuhan and Shenzhen.
The Belarusian will look to take on the role of the aggressor in this match. She possesses powerful groundstrokes off both wings, and her serve is another big weapon that often bails her out of tricky situations.
She does tend to leak a few too many errors at times, but her high-risk game has reaped rich rewards this season.
For Linette, the key will lie in finding a way to stay with the third seed during her hot streaks. If the Pole can protect her serve well and keep the scoreboard close, the pressure will fall back on Sabalenka.
Linette will also need to keep the points short, so as to not allow Sabalenka to settle into a rhythm from the back court. The 29-year-old is a strong tactical player, and she will look to cause a few problems for Sabalenka with her flat ball striking.
That said, if the Belarusian manages to keep her error count in check, she should have enough firepower to come through.
Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in two tight sets.