The field at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open has whittled down to just four names. Chief among them is top seed Elena Rybakina, who cruised through her quarterfinal and set up an enticing semifinal showdown against Liudmila Samsonova. Who will reach Sunday’s final?
WTA Abu Dhabi Semifinal Predictions
Beatriz Haddad Maia vs Daria Kasatkina
Head-to-head: Haddad Maia 2-0 Kasatkina
Haddad Maia upstaged Ons Jabeur on Arab soil, which is no mean feat. With that said, the Brazilian continues to live off the reputation of being a resilient competitor. She has played the most minutes of any player this week and was involved in the longest WTA match of 2024 so far in the second round (she also played the longest WTA match of 2023).
Daria Kasatkina, for her part, thrashed Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-0 to reach her second semifinal of the season. Outside her second-round defeat at the Australian Open, the Russian has made an auspicious start to the season, which includes a runner-up finish in Adelaide. Haddad Maia’s patient point construction and ability to find clever angles work well when she is the one dictating. However, she’ll be in all sorts of tangles here, with Kasatkina being hyper-aggressive behind the return (broken serve at least four times in every match en route to the semifinal).
Prediction: Kasatkina in 3
Elena Rybakina vs Liudmila Samsonova
Head-to-head: Samsonova 4-0 Rybakina
The word is that the Abu Dhabi courts are playing extremely fast this year. It’s not a surprise that two first-strike artists will contest a semifinal. But what is perhaps quite shocking is that Rybakina has had four career meetings against Liudmila Samsonova and has not been remotely close to ending her barren record in the head-to-head. The Kazakh was hardly in her best form to start her campaign, needing to dig herself out of a hole against Danielle Collins.
But there was a semblance of normality in Rybakina’s performance in the semifinal, except for one poor service game. The top seed’s headache is that Samsonova has looked imperious all week and that one dud game on serve could prove costly. There will be a surplus of jaw-dropping power here and a scarcity of rallies. On the evidence of their performances this week, Samsonova appears to be the clinical heavy hitter.
Prediction: Samsonova in 3
Main Photo Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports