Thursday tennis acca tips: Elena Rybakina to swerve giant-killer
Planet Sport offers up picks for a handful of matches from ATP and WTA Tour events on Thursday, February 8.
Elena Rybakina will be out to avoid another disappointing 'early' exit from the Abu Dhabi Open.
Rybakina starts her tournament with a round-of-16 clash against qualifier Danielle Collins.
Collins used her match time as a springboard to defeat former Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka in the opening round.
She once again has that edge over Rybakina but the top ten star has a title in the bag already this season while Osaka is beating the comeback trail.
Here we make our picks for a handful of matches from ATP and WTA Tour events on Thursday, February 8.
ATP Cordoba: Thiago Agustin Tirante vs Facundo Diaz Acosta | Pick: Acosta
ATP Cordoba: Yannick Hanfmann vs Roman Andres Burruchaga | Pick: Hanfmann
ATP Dallas: Adrian Mannarino vs Yoshihito Nishioka | Pick: Mannarino
ATP Dallas: Frances Tiafoe vs Alex Michelsen | Pick: Tiafoe
WTA Abu Dhabi: Barbora Krejcikova vs Sara Sorribes Tormo | Pick: Krejcikova
WTA Abu Dhabi: Anhelina Kalinina vs Liudmilla Samsonova | Pick: Samsonova
WTA Abu Dhabi: Elena Rybakina vs Danielle Rose Collins | Pick: Rybakina
WTA Abu Dhabi: Cristina Bucsa vs Heather Watson | Pick: Watson
ATP Cordoba: Thiago Agustin Tirante vs Facundo Diaz Acosta
Thiago Agustin Tirante and Facundo Diaz Acosta face off in a match that sees them jockeying for position in their Argentinean national rankings stakes.
Tirante owns a head-to-head win over his compatriot but that match saw Acosta suffer an injury.
This will be their first ATP Tour level clash with that win also coming on the Challenger circuit.
Acosta has been better placed on the rankings for some time and will be out to prove himself.
ATP Cordoba: Yannick Hanfmann vs Roman Andres Burruchaga
Germany's Yannick Hanfmann faces clay specialist Roman Andres Burruchaga in a tough assignment.
Burruchaga gets through a lot of work at multiple levels to make the most of clay events.
However, Hanfmann has the skills to make sure his class shows on clay.
Burruchaga has played 192 of his 247 career matches on clay but that specialisation won't guarantee a win.
ATP Dallas: Adrian Mannarino vs Yoshihito Nishioka
Adrian Mannarino will be out to send Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka packing for a third time in their careers.
The Frenchman leads the career head-to-head 2-0 and also beat Nishioka in this tournament two years ago.
Mannarino starts his campaign with this match while Nishioka has already had to win through the Round of 32.
Nishioka put away Terence Atmane in the first round for his first win of the season but will find his compatriot a stiffer challenge.
ATP Dallas: Frances Tiafoe vs Alex Michelsen
As of right now, Frances Tiafoe and Alex Michelsen have never faced each other on the ATP Tour; hence, the head-to-head record is 0-0.
Michelsen is part of the next generation of American talent but Tiafoe will want to deny him a Dallas last-eight appearance.
Tiafoe also begins his tournament with this match having enjoyed a first-round bye.
Michelsen has the benefit of a win at the venue already but that might not be enough against Tiafoe.
WTA Abu Dhabi: Barbora Krejcikova vs Sara Sorribes Tormo
As one of the top seeds at the Abu Dhabi Open, : Barbora Krejcikova received a first-round bye.
Sorribes Tormo made the most of her second chance here after first falling in the qualifying stages but finding a place in the main draw as a lucky loser.
She defeated Krejcikova's compatriot Linda Noskova in a three-set battle first up.
Krejcikova needs to put a middling start to the season behind her and get some results.
WTA Abu Dhabi: Anhelina Kalinina vs Liudmilla Samsonova
Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina faces Russian Liudmilla Samsonova in the Round of 16 in Abu Dhabi.
Samsonova bested Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko in the first round of this tournament.
Meanwhile, Kalinina pushed past Lucia Bronzetti of Italy in her opening match.
This will be the first-ever meeting between these two players.
WTA Abu Dhabi: Elena Rybakina vs Danielle Rose Collins
The top seed Elena Rybakina will play her opening match in the competition against Danielle Collins.
Collins faced Naomi Osaka in her first match, and not even the seventh-fastest recorded serve in WTA history could stop her.
Osaka it must be said was wasteful and Rybakina typically doesn't let players off the hook easily.
The result will depend on whether Rybakina is up for this tournament or not.
WTA Abu Dhabi: Cristina Bucsa vs Heather Watson
Heather Watson kick-started her season with a victory in Abu Dhabi after being winless in January.
The former British No 1 won two high-quality qualifying matches, defeating Sofia Kenin and Cristina Bucsa's compatriot Rebeka Masarova in three sets.
Watson shocked ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova in the main draw to reach the last 16.
Now she faces Bucsa who is making the most of her second chance, having entered the main draw as a lucky loser and defeated the higher-ranked Xinyu Wang in her first round.