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Abu Dhabi Women's Tennis Open 2021: Coco Gauff vs Ulrikke Eikeri preview, head-to-head & prediction

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 05 Jan 2021, 18:15 IST
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Match details

Fixture: Coco Gauff vs Ulrikke Eikeri

Tournament: Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open 2021

Round: Round of 64 (First round)

Venue: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Category: WTA 500

Surface: Outdoor Hardcourt

Prize money: $565,530

Live telecast:  USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel

Coco Gauff vs Ulrikke Eikeri preview

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After an incredible run between Wimbledon 2019 and Australian Open 2020, Coco Gauff was tipped to rise even further up the ladder last year. The COVID-19 pandemic ended up putting Gauff's ambitions on the backburner, but her determination has not waned.

Set to turn 17 in March, Gauff is one of the most accomplished youngsters on the women's tennis circuit and is already ranked No. 48 in the world.

Her results since the WTA tour resumption in August have been mixed, including a first round exit at the US Open and a second-round loss at the French Open. But Gauff did hit the headlines off the court by taking a very visible and vocal stand against racial injustice during the Black Lives Matter movement.

Backed by a solid team that includes her parents as well as renowned French coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Gauff will be hoping to play a more consistent schedule in 2021 to gain more match experience.

Her opponent in the first round at the Abu Dhabi event is the 28-year-old Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri, who is ranked No. 135 in doubles and No. 260 in singles.

Eikeri got into the main draw as an alternate, benefiting from pandemic-related travel requirements which have forced many players to head straight to Melbourne.

Coco Gauff vs Ulrikke Eikeri head-to-head

Ulrikke Eikeri while competing in the junior girls
Ulrikke Eikeri while competing in the junior girls' singles event at the 2010 US Open
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The two players have never played each other on tour, and therefore the head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.

Coco Gauff vs Ulrikke Eikeri prediction

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff

Ulrikke Eikeri doesn't have much match experience at the main tour level. But she has been grinding her way through the ITF World Tour for a decade now, accumulating a 398-235 win-loss record.

If there was ever a good time for a player at her level to face off against a higher-ranked player, this might be it. The lack of WTA events in recent months has brought about conditioning challenges for players all across the board.

On paper, Coco Gauff is the clear favorite in this match. With a top 50 ranking and plenty of big-match experience on her side, the 16-year-old American would be backed to advance to the second round - where a possible encounter with ninth seed Maria Sakkari looms.

Prediction: Coco Gauff to win straight sets.

Published 05 Jan 2021, 17:46 IST
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