The second day of a tennis week full of tournaments begins tomorrow. Much of the focus, understandably, will be on the WTA 500 Abu Dhabi Open, where many of the biggest stars in the women’s game will be taking part. These include two former world No. 1s, Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova, and one-time U.S. Open finalist Leila Fernandez. LWOT takes a look at some of the big games of the day:
Shelby Rogers v Leila Fernandez
Former U.S. Open runner-up Fernandez will be eliminated against Shelby Rodgers.Rodgers’ resume may not be a good match for Fernandez’s, but She’s a solid player, a two-time quarter-finalist at a major, and can trouble anyone in her day. Still to beat Fernandez, she needs her A-level game. The Canadian, who did not drop a set in qualifying, played well in Australia but met Caroline Garcia in the second round.
While Fernandez’s return to the top is unlikely (not until 2024), expect some solid progress this season. Since that US Open runner-up finish, she’s lost to Radhakanu, but she’s basically playing tennis better than the Briton and at 20, time is still on her side .
Paula Badossa v Lyudmila Samsonova
Paula Bardossa. She is so impressive. She has yet to claim a Grand Slam title, but she is certainly one of the WTA’s elite. Unfortunately, she missed the Australian Open. She could have added to the spectacle in Melbourne and it won’t be a surprise to see her going into week two.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only disappointment the Spaniard has suffered of late. In fact, the second half of 2022 has been very disappointing, with the injury issues that affected her last season continuing so far this year. As a result, her career high dropped from No. 2 in the world to her current WTA ranking of No. 21.
On the plus side, however, she doesn’t have that many points to defend. Standing in front of her at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open is Liudmila Samsonava. But it might just be a good time to play Russia. The world number 19 suffered a poor performance after losing 3-6 0-6 to Donna Vekic in the second round of the Australian Open. In contrast, Bardoza has not lost a game so far this year.
Karolina Pliskova v Gabrine Muguruza
Now there are two very strange players. Since winning the WTA Finals in 2021, Muguruza’s state has plummeted. The Spaniard didn’t just lose. She lost badly. Especially troubling was the failure of a series of seemingly impenetrable positions. Muguruza does have a lot of experience, but the mental baggage is definitely piling up right now.
She is currently ranked 83rd in the world, having not won since October. Still, there’s reason to be confident about her chances here. Pliskova herself can be a little weird at times. Her run to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open was impressive, but her defeat here was no surprise. Likewise, she has won nine of 11 bouts with Pliskova.
Primary photo credit: Danielle Parhizkaran – USA TODAY Sports