Fixture: (5) Elena Rybakina vs Shuai Zhang
Date: 24 September 2020
Tournament: Internationaux de Strasbourg 2020
Venue: Strasbourg, France
Category: WTA International
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €225,500
Match timing: Approx. 12 pm CEST, 3.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Elena Rybakina vs Shuai Zhang preview
In a rematch of the 2020 Hobart final, World No. 18 Elena Rybakina takes on the 40th-ranked Shuai Zhang for a place in the semifinals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg 2020.
The 21-year-old Rybakina has not been able to replicate her early season heroics since the resumption of the tour. Her thunderous start to 2020 saw her winning the title in Hobart and reaching the final at Shenzen, St. Petersburg and Dubai, but after the restart she has failed to go past the Round of 16 at the Western & Southern Open, US Open and Italian Open.
The Russian-born Kazakh had a disappointing 3-3 win-loss record before arriving at Strasbourg, and was desperately looking to get back her winning touch.
She seems to have succeeded in doing exactly that. Rybakina hasn't dropped a set in her two matches, although she was made to work hard by both Greet Minnen and former champion Alize Cornet.
Shuai Zhang, meanwhile, has failed to build on her good start to 2020, where she reached the final at Hobart. Zhang did register a couple of solid wins at the Australian Open before losing to eventual champion Sofia Kenin, but since then it has been a season of struggle for her.
The World No. 40 lost five of her next six matches, and entering Strasbourg was on a five-match losing streak. Zhang came to this tournament in search of some much-needed confidence ahead of the French Open, and just like Rybakina she seems to have got it too.
In a resurgent show, the Chinese has been able to come through the qualifiers and reach the quarterfinals, stringing together three impressive wins in a row.
Elena Rybakina vs Shuai Zhang head-to-head
Elena Rybakina and Shuai Zhang's Hobart face-off at the start of the 2020 season has been their only meeting so far, with Rybakina leading the head-to-head 1-0.
The Kazakh was able to stave off some stiff resistance from Zhang in the first set of that match to secure a 7-6(7), 6-3 win for just the second title of her young career.
Elena Rybakina vs Shuai Zhang prediction
Although Elena Rybakina is the higher ranked player in this showdown, she won't be a heavy favorite for the win.
Shuai Zhang can produce some fluid shot-making from the back of the court, with her backhand being her strong point. Her prowess in doubles has helped her sharpen her volleys too, which could make life difficult for the Kazakh.
With her angles and depth, Zhang would look to move her young opponent all over the court.
However, if Rybakina can get her forehand and serve going, she would definitely fancy her chances of overpowering Zhang. The Kazakh had some troubles with her serve in the last match, committing five double faults, so she would need to clean up that aspect of her game if she hopes to progress to the semifinals.
Prediction: Elena Rybakina to win in three sets.Published 24 Sep 2020, 00:36 IST