Fixture: (3) Karolina Pliskova vs Sorana Cirstea
Tournament: Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open
Round: Round of 64 (First round)
Venue: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Category: WTA 500
Prize money: $565,530
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel
Karolina Pliskova vs Sorana Cirstea preview
The former World No. 1 will look to get off the blocks quickly in the brand new WTA 500 tournament. Karolina Pliskova usually thrives in the first week of the season, as evident from her record of winning a title in three of the last four years.
The Czech had started 2020 in thunderous fashion, successfully defending her Brisbane crown with aplomb. But she failed to build on that; her only other final of the year came on the clay courts of Rome, where a thigh injury forced her to retire.
Karolina Pliskova will be itching to get back to winning ways, especially she has a new coach by her side. In the off-season, Pliskova joined forces with Sascha Bajin, who has previously coached three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka.
Bajin guided Osaka to the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open titles, and Pliskova will be hoping to replicate those feats.
Sorana Cirstea's biggest achievement last year, meanwhile, was winning the ITF 100,000 tournament in Dubai. Starting from the qualifying rounds, the former French Open quarterfinalist upset second seed Polona Hercog, fourth seed Anna Blinkova and sixth seed Barbora Krejcikova before trouncing fifth seed Katerina Siniakova in the final.
Sorana Cirstea is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, and she will arrive in Abu Dhabi with a lot of confidence after her flurry of impressive wins in Dubai.
Karolina Pliskova vs Sorana Cirstea head-to-head
Karolina Pliskova and Sorana Cirstea have squared off twice before, with the head-to-head currently tied at 1-1. The Czech emerged victorious in three sets in their first-ever face-off at Pattaya City in 2014, but Cirstea avenged that loss three years later in Beijing.
Karolina Pliskova vs Sorana Cirstea prediction
Sorana Cirstea played a competitive event as recently as last month, when she won the title in Dubai. Karolina Pliskova, on the other hand, finished her season in October, losing early at the Ostrava Open. Rust could therefore be a factor as the lanky Czech navigates her way through the start of the 2021 season.
That said, Pliskova has historically been at her menacing best in the first week of the year. Even if she takes a bit of time to get her rhythm back, she is unlikely to be made to pay by Sorana Cirstea who is not the most consistent of players.
Pliskova should be able to inflict plenty of damage with her big serve and fiery groundstrokes, and it would take a special performance from the Romanian to pull off an upset.
Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to win in straight sets.Published 05 Jan 2021, 17:59 IST