Fixture: (5) Garbine Muguruza vs Kristina Mladenovic
Tournament: Abu Dhabi Women's Tennis Open 2021
Round: Round of 64 (First round)
Venue: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Category: WTA 500
Surface: Outdoor Hardcourt
Prize money: $565,530
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel
Garbine Muguruza vs Kristina Mladenovic preview
Garbine Muguruza kicks off her 2021 season at the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi, where she faces Kristina Mladenovic in the first round.
It was this time last year that Muguruza saw a remarkable surge in form after a few seasons of underwhelming results. The Spaniard finished as the runner-up at the Australian Open in Melbourne, beating Simona Halep, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina before bowing out 6-4 2-6 2-6 to Sofia Kenin in the final.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with ankle injury concerns, Muguruza was unable to maintain her strong form throughout the 2020 season. A quarterfinal in Doha and a semifinal in Rome were her only other remarkable results of the year.
Muguruza did not play after Roland Garros, and has been out of action since early October.
World No. 50 Kristina Mladenovic, meanwhile, had an unconvincing 6-8 win-loss record last year. Despite thriving in doubles, the Frenchwoman has been unable to translate that form in the singles arena.
Since the restart of the WTA tour in August, Mladenovic has won only two matches in main draw action.
Garbine Muguruza vs Kristina Mladenovic head-to-head
The meeting in Abu Dhabi marks the fourth between the pair at tour level. Kristina Mladenovic currently leads the head-to-head record 2-1 over Garbine Muguruza.
The Spaniard won their latest encounter in the quarterfinal, at Monterrey in 2019. But Mladenovic defeated her twice before that - at Roland Garros 2017 and Marrakech 2015.
Garbine Muguruza vs Kristina Mladenovic prediction
Both players come into the match having spent a long period away from competitive action, which could lead to some unpredictable tennis. But despite their history, Muguruza's 2020 form and superior ranking make her the favorite for this encounter.
The Spaniard's aggressive baseline approach worked wonders on outdoor hardcourts 12 months ago. She will look to start this year in similar fashion.
To cause an upset, Mladenovic will have to use her strong first serve and put pressure on Muguruza early to prevent her from controlling the back of the court. The Frenchwoman will look to mix up her game and attack the net, but we can also expect plenty of hard-hitting baseline rallies in this match - particularly from the backhand wing.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to win in three sets.Published 05 Jan 2021, 18:08 IST