Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: WTA Tour 2020: Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships

WTA Tour 2020: Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships

Tennis player holds racquet

The semi-finals gets underway at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships with Damien Kayat previewing the respective matchups between Simona Halep and Jennifer Brady as well as 
Petra Martic and Elena Rybakina. 

WTA Tour 2020 | WTA Premier
Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships 
Aviation Club Tennis Centre (Outdoor Hardcourt)
Semi-Final Preview | Friday 21 February 2020

Simona Halep (4/10)
vs Jennifer Brady (7/4)

Simona Halep continues to fly the flag this week for the highly fancied players. This has been a week of monumental surprises (just look at this encounter). Halep has hardly been on fire this week.  Kudos to me, I actually guessed she would beat Jabeur in three sets. But I never saw her having to save a match point. She then came from behind to beat Sabalenka in the quarters. I think she will have gained some confidence in seeing the level of players who have been eliminated this week. Halep has done it the hard way but she finally seems to be shrugging off that semi-final defeat against Muguruza. The 2015 Champion could do with a major non-Slam win and looks primed for success this week. 

Jennifer Brady is yet another in this long list of American players who emerges out of seemingly nowhere (just think Danielle Collins and Sofia Kenin). She actually hinted at her abilities in 2017, with two Grand Slam 4th round appearances in Australia and Flushing Meadows. But her career seemed to plummet somewhat. But 2019 hinted at a mini resurgence, with a semi-final in Nottingham showing some form. But 2020 has really started with a bang. She beat World Number One Ashleigh Barty at the Brisbane International, a result that saw her shoot into the top 50 of the World Rankings. But few could have foreseen her dynamism in this event. She came through qualifying and then got through a murderous draw. She thrashed Elina Svitolina before beating Vondrousova and Muguruza in epic matches. By beating Muguruza she did deny us the opportunity of an Aussie Open replay. 

Halep leads the head-to-head 2-0. She convincingly beat Brady in the 1st round of the Aussie Open. But her victory over Brady in Canada last year was a painstaking three-set affair. Both of these players enter the semi-final with some baggage after a gruelling tournament. There’s value in backing Brady here when you consider her results over Muguruza and Svitolina. But I think that Halep’s experience will propel her over the line, probably in a tight three-set match at 28/10.  

Petra Martic (11/10)
vs Elena Rybakina (13/20)

Elena Rybakina is one of the emerging talents on the WTA Tour. Rybakina is a ferocious baseliner, like many of Russian descent: she now represents Kazakhstan. The 20-year-old won her maiden WTA title in Bucharest last season, which was only her 7th appearance in the main draw of a WTA event.  But 2020 has brought more persistent success. She reached the final in Shenzhen prior to capturing the title in Hobart. Granted, these were not stellar fields. But they showed a progression for the young Kazakh. She then won her first two Grand Slam matches at the Aussie Open. She continued her hardcourt brilliance with a run to the final in St Petersburg last week. Despite all that, she was missing that big scalp in her locker. She rectified that this week by beating World Number Three Karoline Pliskova and Aussie Open Champion Sofia Kenin this week. Rybakina is an exciting young prospect destined for a place in the top 10. 

By contrast, Petra Martic has made a more gradual ascent into the world’s top 20. The Croatian has shown ability on all courts, winning her first title on clay in Istanbul last year. But she also reached the semi-finals in Birmingham on grass. What defined her season was a growing appreciation for Grand Slam tennis. She reached her first quarterfinal at the French Open and also managed 4th round finishes in Wimbledon and the US Open. She has had a fairly routine route to this stage, beating the talented Estonian Anett Kontaveit in the last round. Martic has become a highly sturdy professional and will look to reach her first final for the year this week. 

This will be the first meeting between these two. Rybakina actually leads the tour this year for most wins. If she plays anywhere near the level of that Pliskova performance, this match is Rybakina’s for the taking.  

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