Rybakina didn't get the easiest draw at the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi. The event is pretty strong, with many great players, and while everyone hopes for a solid draw, sometimes you just have to dig deep.
That will be the case for Rybakina this week, as she's facing Danielle Collins in the second round. The American got there by beating Naomi Osaka in the previous round, and she's looking really good.
Of course, Rybakina is in another league, though her most recent outing in Melbourne wasn't very good, but she has already explained possible reasons for that.
Rybakina and Collins have played a couple of matches so far in their careers, but this might be the last one. The American is retiring from the sport, which is why she's playing with added motivation in most of these.
So far, the 2022 Wimbledon winner has been the more successful player, winning two of their three matches. Both of those were played last year, and both were three-set wins for the Kazakhstani player. It's been somewhat of a problematic matchup for Rybakina.
It comes down to Collins being a really solid hitter who can move Rybakina around the court. As great as she is, she prefers the sitting duck treatment where she bombards from the baseline.
Even so, I think Rybakina improved significantly compared to last year and can handle approaches like that really well. Just remember what she did to Aryna Sabalenka earlier this year in Brisbane. With all that in mind, I think this will be a good test for her, but ultimately, she'll have enough to win the match.
Prediction: Elena Rybakina to win in two sets.