The 2021 WTA season kicks off at the Abu Dhabi Open, with some blockbuster clashes lined up for the fans. Two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza will play against Kristina Mladenovic in the first round.
Muguruza made a splendid start to the 2020 season, as finished as the runner-up of the Australian Open final. However, she could not replicate her powerful performances after the tour’s resumption in September last year. The Spaniard’s only notable results were a quarterfinal in Doha and a semifinal at the 2020 Italian Open.
On the other hand, Mladenovic had a disappointing run in the singles event last season. Despite winning two Grand Slam titles in doubles, Mladenovic had a poor 6-8 win-loss record in singles in the 2020 season.
The duo has faced thrice against each other, with Mladenovic having a 2-1 edge in their rivalry. They last faced off in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Monterrey Open, which Muguruza won in straight sets.
Meanwhile, Mladenovic came on the winning side when the duo clashed in the Round-of-16 at the 2017 Roland Garros and the 2015 Marrakech.
Despite the head-to-head record in Mladenovic’s favor, Muguruza will be the favorite going into the match. Seeded No.5, Muguruza’s superior 2020 season and her powerful baseline game will pose a tough challenge for her opponent.
The Spaniard will aim to go deeper into the tournament to achieve her top form before the start of the 2021 Australian Open. To topple her former World No.1, Mladenovic will have to attack the net and play aggressively from the baseline.
Mladenovic will have to hit a high percentage of first serves inside to push Muguruza at the back of the court. However, the odds are stacked in favor of Muguruza, and she will most likely begin her season with a victory.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to win in three sets