TennisSection previews the 2023 Abu Dhabi Open as Elena Rybakina takes on Karolina Pliskova in the second round on Thursday, February 9, 2023.
Elena Rybakina will resume her 2023 season for the first time since losing the women’s Australian Open final to Aryna Sabalenka. But she faces a formidable challenge against former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova at the Abu Dhabi Open. Who will prevail?
Elena Rybakina will be playing in the United Arab Emirates for the fourth time in her career. She’s been to a final before in Dubai three years ago, losing to Simona Haleo in a dramatic three-setter. While her previous visit to Abu Dhabi was also eventful as she exited the tournament in the last eight to Sabalenka – the eventual winner. There will be no Sabalenka in the UAE’s capital this week, but still plenty of big hitters in the draw, including Karolina Pliskova who is due to face the world No. 10.
Karolina Pliskova, for her part, did not have a first-round bye like Elena Rybakina. Instead, Pliskova played Ysaline Bonaventure (who replaced Garbine Muguruza in the draw a few hours before the match) the Belgian lucky loser. The Czech won quite handsomely, taking less than an hour to book her spot in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Open.
Elena Rybakina leads Karolina Pliskova 2-0 in their head-to-head in WTA meetings. I’m not entirely certain we might get the best version of Rybakina this week. She’s only coming back after a rollercoaster fortnight in Melbourne. But if her game clicks into place right out of the gates, Pliskova is unlikely to live with her. Backing the Kazakh seems like the logical choice, but look out for this match to go the full distance.
Free Tennis Prediction and Pick: Elena Rybakina in 3 sets
Free Value Bet: Karolina Pliskova set handicap +1.5
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