Fixture: (3) Aryna Sabalenka vs (Q) Ana Konjuh
Date: 30 May 2021
Tournament: Roland Garros 2021
Round: First round (Round of 128)
Venue: Paris, France
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Red Clay
Prize money: €17,171,108
Match timing: Approx. 4 pm local time, 2 pm GMT, 10 am EST, 7.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - NBC Sports / Tennis Channel | UK - ITV | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Aryna Sabalenka vs Ana Konjuh preview
Sabalenka heads to Roland Garros on the back of some impressive results. Having started the year with the Abu Dhabi title on hardcourts, the Belarusian went on to master the clay in spectacular fashion. Her first-ever title on the red dirt at Madrid and a runners-up finish at Stuttgart have made her one of the biggest contenders for the title in Paris.
Currently perched at a career-high ranking of No. 4, the Belarusian will be keen to bring the momentum she has built up over the course of the season into what could be a tricky opener in Paris.
Ana Konjuh is gradually working her way back up the rankings following a battle with injuries. A former junior World No. 1, the prodigious talent broke into the top 20 of the world rankings in 2017 before injuries derailed her career. Now, having undergone four elbow surgeries and fallen out of the top 1000, the 23-year-old is determined to make up for lost time.
Since losing in the final round of Australian Open qualifying this year, Konjuh has gone on to make the Miami Open fourth round, the quarterfinals in Istanbul and the final in Belgrade.
The World No. 144 has carried that form into the claycourt Major to record three wins in qualifying without dropping a set and set up a tantalizing first-round encounter with the in-form Sabalenka.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Ana Konjuh head-to-head
Aryna Sabalenka and Ana Konjuh have never crossed paths on the tour before, so their head-to-head currently stands at a 0-0 deadlock.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Ana Konjuh prediction
Having had a standout clay season, Aryna Sabalenka is the favorite to win this match. She has been striking the ball with confidence and has shown a vast improvement in her movement on the red dirt.
The hard-hitting Belarusian has learnt to control her aggression and keep errors to a minimum, which has yielded rich rewards.
Even though Sabalenka has momentum on her side, she needs to be wary of Ana Konjuh. The Croat uses the entire area of the court to produce fabulous angles that keep her opponents on their toes. Konjuh also doesn't hesitate to rush forward and finish points at the net if she gets a short ball, meaning Sabalenka will have to maintain depth on her shots throughout the match.
However, Konjuh's serve is her achilles heel and Sabalenka will look to capitalize. The Croat coughed up seven double faults in the final round of qualifying against Rebecca Sramkova. She also landed just 47% of her first serves, which could be problematic against a merciless returner like Sabalenka.
Konjuh does have the firepower to stretch Sabalenka but she will need to clean up her act and stay solid over the course of the match.
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Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in three sets.