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WTA Finals 2021: Aryna Sabalenka vs Paula Badosa preview, head-to-head & prediction

Aryna Sabalenka ahead of the 2021 WTA Finals
Aryna Sabalenka ahead of the 2021 WTA Finals
Sudeshna Banerjee
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Match details

Fixture: (1) Aryna Sabalenka vs (7) Paula Badosa

Date: 11 November 2021

Tournament: Akron WTA Finals 2021

Round: Round robin (Group Chichen Itza)

Venue: Guadalajara, Mexico

Category: Year-ending championships

Surface: Hardcourt

Prize money: $5,000,000

Match timing: Not before 7.30 pm local time, 1.30 am GMT, 7 am IST

Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel & ESPN | UK - Amazon Prime Video


Aryna Sabalenka vs Paula Badosa preview

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka will open her campaign at the 2021 WTA Finals against Indian Wells champion Paula Badosa on Thursday.

Sabalenka has put together her best-ever season this year, winning titles in Abu Dhabi and Madrid. More importantly, she reached a couple of Grand Slam semifinals for the first time in her career. Her exploits this season catapulted her to a career-high ranking of No. 2 in the world, making her the highest-ranked player in the Guadalajara field.

The Belarusian was laid low by a positive COVID-19 test a few weeks ago and her comeback in Moscow didn't prove successful, with the 23-year-old managing to win just one match.

Sabalenka has not played much tennis of late and she will be hoping she can hit the ground running in Guadalajara and end her stellar season on a high.

Paula Badosa ahead of the 2021 WTA Finals
Paula Badosa ahead of the 2021 WTA Finals

Much like Sabalenka, Paula Badosa is also enjoying the most memorable season of her career. Badosa toppled three Grand Slam champions -- Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Barbora Krejcikova -- en route to winning the BNP Paribas Open, her biggest title.

The Spaniard also made the quarterfinals at Roland Garros as well as the Olympics and won the title in Belgrade.

With a strong 41-15 win-loss record for the year, Badosa enters the WTA Finals brimming with confidence and perched at a career-high No. 10 in the world rankings.

Aryna Sabalenka vs Paula Badosa head-to-head

Paula Badosa leads Aryna Sabalenka 1-0 in the head-to-head, having won their solitary meeting 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(4) at Cincinnati earlier this year.

Aryna Sabalenka vs Paula Badosa prediction

Paula Badosa with the BNP Paribas Open trophy
Paula Badosa with the BNP Paribas Open trophy

Although Sabalenka is the higher-ranked player, her fitness remains a concern after her battle with COVID-19. The high bounce at Guadalajara will also not suit the Belarusian, who likes to bludgeon her way past her opponents.

Badosa, in contrast, has a game that is more suited to these conditions; her heavy topspin forehand could make life especially difficult for the Belarusian. Having beaten Sabalenka in their only meeting so far, Badosa will be confident of toppling the top seed once again.

Badosa enters this clash boasting a six-match winning streak and it will take a monumental effort from Sabalenka to overcome the red-hot Spaniard.

Prediction: Paula Badosa to win in three sets.


Edited by Arvind Sriram
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