Fixture: (15) Elena Rybakina [KAZ] vs (9) Belinda Bencic [SUI]
Date: 29 July 2021
Tournament: Olympics 2021
Venue: Ariake Tennis Park, Tokyo, Japan
Category: Olympic Games
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Match timing: 3 pm local time, 11.30 am IST, 6 am GMT, 2 am ET
Live telecast: USA - NBC & Peacock TV | UK - BBC TV | India - Sony Liv
Elena Rybakina vs Belinda Bencic preview
After making a quiet start to the season, Rybakina has found her rhythm over the last few weeks. The Kazakh reached her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros before reaching the semifinals at Eastbourne.
At Wimbledon, it took an inspired effort from Aryna Sabalenka to knock her out in the Round of 16. The World No. 20 has brought that form into her maiden Olympic campaign, where she has made the semifinals without dropping a set.
Her 7-5, 6-1 upset of two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza showed just how determined Rybakina is to win Kazakhstan's first tennis medal at the Olympics.
Belinda Bencic, meanwhile, is keen to continue Switzerland's rich legacy in Olympic tennis. The Alpine nation already has two gold medals and two silvers and Bencic is looking to bring home their fifth medal.
The World No. 12 struggled at the start of the season, but seems to have found her mojo in Tokyo, where she has defeated Roland Garros finalists Barbora Krejcikova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her last two matches.
Elena Rybakina vs Belinda Bencic head-to-head
Elena Rybakina and Belinda Bencic have never crossed paths on the tour before so their head-to-head currently stands at a 0-0 deadlock.
Elena Rybakina vs Belinda Bencic prediction
Belinda Bencic traditionally enjoys faster surfaces where her flat groundstrokes reap rich rewards. But she has adjusted well to the slow conditions in Tokyo this week.
While she has registered wins over world-class opposition, she does have plenty of room for improvement. She leaked as many as 11 double faults against Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinals and another poor serving display will prove to be disastrous against Rybakina, who has been striking the ball confidently so far.
Bencic also needs to cut down on her unforced errors. In the last match, her 21 winners were offset by 22 unforced errors.
Rybakina, meanwhile, powered six aces past Muguruza in her quarterfinal, while committing a solitary double fault. Her forehand was sharp throughout the match, producing 17 winners. Rybakina dictated proceedings against the Spaniard with her powerful crosscourt forehands, and she will look to do the same against Bencic.
Rybakina is also the fresher of the two players coming into this match. Should the match go the distance, the Kazakh should have enough in the tank to pull through.
Prediction: Elena Rybakina to win in three sets.