Fixture: Elena Rybakina vs Nao Hibino
Date: 25 September 2020
Tournament: Internationaux de Strasbourg 2020
Venue: Strasbourg, France
Category: WTA International
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €225,500
Match timing: Not before 1.30 pm CEST, 5 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Elena Rybakina vs Nao Hibino preview
21-year-old Elena Rybakina was one of the most in-form players on the tour before the shutdown. The Russian-born Kazakh player started the season brilliantly - reaching the final in Shenzhen, winning the title in Hobart, and reaching the final in Dubai, where she lost to Simona Halep.
However, she was just 3-3 since the resumption of the season prior to this week.
25-year-old Nao Hibino of Japan has been around on the tour for a while now. She has two WTA titles to her credit so far, both on hardcourt, and has peaked at No. 56 in the rankings.
After making a good start to the year, where she qualified for the Australian Open and reached the second round there, Hibino also reached the semifinals of the Hua Hin event in February. However, she had lost her last five matches on the tour coming into this tournament.
Elena Rybakina vs Nao Hibino head-to-head
Elena Rybakina leads the head-to-head over Nao Hibino 1-0. In their only previous meeting, in the final round of the qualifying stage at the French Open last year, Rybakina defeated Hibino 7-5, 7-5.
Elena Rybakina vs Nao Hibino prediction
Elena Rybakina scored two tough wins earlier this week, beating Greet Minnen and French veteran Alize Cornet, before a more comfortable quarterfinal win over China's Shuai Zhang on Thursday.
“I played much better today than in my last match. I’m pleased with my serve today. It wasn’t easy. Of course, it’s never easy,” she told the WTA Tour after beating Zhang. “I’m pleased with my serve today. With every win, you become more confident but I’m going to focus on the next match and we’ll see how we go.”
Ranked no. 84 in the world, Hibino is through to her first WTA semifinal on clay after a string of good wins this week. She upset the No. 8 seed and former US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round, then beat Zarina Diyas in the second, before following that up with a win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
The run of impressive wins has surprised Hibino herself, who told the WTA Tour: “It’s surprising for me that I’m doing well this week. Playing on a clay court is not my favorite thing."
Rybakina is a hard-hitting player, and this match will likely be on her racket. Hibino could try to slow down the game and engage the 21-year-old in longer rallies, hoping to force errors out of her younger opponent. But if Rybakina is on her game, she should sail through.
Prediction: Elena Rybakina to win in straight sets.