Fixture: (2) Elena Rybakina vs Claire Liu
Date: 5 August 2021
Tournament: Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 16)
Venue: San Jose, United States
Category: WTA 500
Surface: Outdoor hard
Prize money: $565,530
Live telecast: USA - ESPN & Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Elena Rybakina vs Claire Liu preview
Rybakina enters the tournament on the back of a strong showing at the Tokyo Olympics. The 20-year-old posted big wins over the likes of Donna Vekic and Garbine Muguruza before going down to Elina Svitolina in the bronze medal play-off.
She will now be keen to carry the momentum into the North American hardcourt swing.
Rybakina's second-round opponent Claire Liu is a former junior No. 1 who has been playing some solid tennis in recent weeks. The American reached the quarterfinals of a 125K event in Sweden last month and produced a huge upset over Dayana Yastremska in the first round in San Jose.
A strong run in front of her home fans will give her plenty of confidence heading into bigger tournaments.
Elena Rybakina vs Claire Liu head-to-head
Elena Rybakina leads Claire Liu 1-0 in their current head-to-head, having registered a straight-sets win in the first round of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships.
Elena Rybakina vs Claire Liu prediction
Elena Rybakina posted some big results in the first half of the season, including a quarter-final showing at Roland Garros and a run to the semifinals of the Olympics. She will enter this contest as the firm favorite on paper.
The Kazakh has a power-packed game that is tailor made for hardcourts. She enjoys playing first-strike tennis and will look to take control of the contest using her flat groundstrokes. Her serve is also likely to win her a few cheap points.
Claire Liu, on the other hand, relies on her consistent baseline game to outlast her points. She faced a big-hitting opponent in her first match against Yastremska and was able to extend the rallies long enough to frustrate the Ukrainian into making errors.
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That strategy, however, is unlikely to succeed against a much more solid player in the shape of Rybakina. Liu will have to step out with a more aggressive approach and push her opponent on the backfoot. If she is unable to do that, she risks being blown away by the Kazakh's power.
Prediction: Elena Rybakina to win in two tight sets