Elina Svitolina (UKR) - WTA No. 6, UTR No. 4 (13.26)
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) - WTA No. 19, UTR No. 18 (13.09)
A few years ago Garbine Muguruza would have been the heavy favorite over Elina Svitolina. For reasons unknown, Muguruza’s level of play has dropped substantially since winning her second major title at Wimbledon in 2017. Muguruza now sits at No. 19 in the world, way too low for an athlete of her caliber.
Svitolina, on the other hand, has steadily increased her rank and level of play at the same time as Muguruza’s decline. Svitolina is the heavy favorite in this match, as both Vegas oddsmakers and UTR rating point towards a comprehensive victory for the Ukrainian.
For Muguruza to beat Svitolina, she will need to do so mentally. Her physical advantages over the much slighter Svitolina are apparent. Tennis is a brutal sport, and confidence is everything. Right now, Svitolina has much more self-belief than Muguruza. Because of that, look for Svitolina to mentally and physically outlast the two time major champion.
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) - ATP No. 25, UTR No. 53 (15.20)
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) - ATP No. 50, UTR No. 63 (15.14)
If talent was a tennis video game rating, Denis Shapovalov would be a 99. His smooth strokes, impeccable timing, and ability to hit clean winners from anywhere on the court is mind-boggling. However, the 19-year old is prone to slip ups, understandably. You really never know what you are going to get with the young Canadian.
Shapovalov’s opponent, Mikhail Kukushkin, is the complete opposite in almost every way. Kukushkin rarely beats himself, and rarely tries for the low-percentage shot. Shapovalov can’t go more than two games in a row without trying for a circus shot. As a fan, I love it, but if I were a sports bettor, I would avoid Shapovalov like the plague.
This matchup will pit incredible shotmaking from the Canadian with supreme discipline and fitness from the Kazakh. This match is on Shapovalov’s racquet, but what will he choose to do with it? Barring a catastrophic mental performance, Shapovalov should prevail in a very close match.
ATP Rio De Janeiro
• Starting Monday 2/18, at 2:30 pm ET, catch live coverage of the Rio Open featuring Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini, and Diego Schwartzman.
• Watch Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova live from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships starting Saturday, 2/16 at 3:00 am ET
• Tennis Channel Plus features live coverage of the Hungarian Ladies Open beginning Monday, 2/18 8:00 am ET
ATP Delray Beach
• Watch Juan Martin del Potro, John Isner and Frances Tiafoe live on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Tuesday, 2/19 at 12:30 am ET.
• See Karen Khachanov, Borna Coric and Stefanos Tsitsipas live on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday 2/18, 8:30 am ET