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Sakkari vs Van Uytvanck WTA Rabat Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Sakkari and Van Uytvanck battle for Rabat final spot

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 2 May 2019
  • Maria Sakkari vs Alison Van Uytvanck is live from Rabat on Friday, 3 May from 3:30pm local time/ 3:30pm BST
  • First tour-level meeting between Sakkari and Van Uytvanck
Maria Sakkari (PA Sport)

Maria Sakkari and Alison Van Uytvanck will meet for the first time at tour level on Friday when they battle for a spot in the Rabat final.

Van Uytvanck is looking to reach her second final of the season, having successfully defended her Budapest title earlier in the year, while Sakkari is contesting her first semi-final of 2019, and her second tour-level final. The Greek was runner-up to Mihaela Buzarnescu in San Jose last season in her only previous WTA title match.

Sakkari has progressed to the Rabat semi-finals without dropping a set, opening with a 6-0 6-2 victory over Serbia's Olga Danilovic, beating Isabella Shinikova 6-4 6-4 in the second round, and taking out top seed and last year's champion, Elise Mertens 6-4 7-6 in Thursday's quarter finals.

Sakkari has now made at least the quarter finals in two of her last three tournaments, having also reached the last eight in Charleston at the start of April- a run which included a 7-6 6-3 victory over Kiki Bertens- her first top-ten win of the season, and the third of her career.

Prior to Charleston, Sakkari had played six tournaments this year without making a quarter final, with her best performance being a third-round showing at the Australian Open, where she defeated Jelena Ostapenko and Astra Sharma before losing to Ashleigh Barty. Her only other win inside the first quarter of 2019 was in Miami, where she defeated Danilovic (lost to Petra Kvitova in the second round), while she failed to cross the first round in Hobart, St. Petersburg, Acapulco and Indian Wells.

Clay has brought better tidings for the Greek, who has now made a quarter final in Charleston and a semi-final in Rabat, either side of a first-round exit in Istanbul. Can she continue her fine Rabat form, and reach her second career final? She will have to take out another Belgian, van Uytvanck to do so.

Van Uytvanck's route to the Rabat semi-finals has included straight sets victories over Pauline Parmentier and Varvara Lepchenko in the first two rounds, but she was extended to three sets by countrywoman, Ysaline Bonaventure in the quarter finals, fighting back to win 5-7 6-1 6-2. The Belgian sent down seven aces, and was aided by 11 double faults off her compatriot's racket.

After dropping an untidy first set, during which she won just 9 of 24 points on her first serve, Van Uytvanck cleaned up her game in the second and third sets, dropping just six points on serve, and facing just one break point for the remainder of the one-hour and 40-minute contest.

Rabat is just the second tournament where Van Uytvanck has won more than one match this season, with the other being Budapest, where she went on to claim the title. She has lost first-round matches in Auckland and the Australian Open, while she went just a step further in Hobart, St. Petersburg, Indian Wells and Lugano. She is also 0-2 in the Fed Cup this season.

Van Uytvanck notably reached the French Open quarter finals in 2015, and ended that season inside the top 50, but she has been very much up and down since then, spending quite a hefty chunk of 2016 and 2017 outside the top 100 after struggling with form and injuries. The Belgian missed the entire clay-court season in 2016 with an ankle injury, and sat out the start of 2017 after undergoing surgery on her right arm.

Despite not winning a main draw match in 2017 until Roland Garros, Van Uytvanck captured her maiden WTA title in Quebec City later that year, beating Timea Babos in the final, and she doubled her title tally in February 2018, when she won the Budapest title. The 25-year-old also made the fourth round at Wimbledon 2018, and the semi-finals at Linz, peaking at No. 37 in the world, and ending at 49th for her first top-50 finish since 2015.

Van Uytvanck retained her Budapest crown earlier this year, but she has spent most of 2019 outside the top 50. The Belgian will however break back into that bracket after Rabat.

Can she take out Sakkari on Friday to reach her fourth WTA final?

This will be their first encounter at tour-level, but they met once before at Challenger event at Ilkley in 2017- Van Uytvanck winning after Sakkari retired in the final set. Both players have been in good form this week, and as their rankings suggest- Sakkari at No. 51, just one spot higher than Van Uytvanck- it should be a very close-fought affair.

Will it be the Belgian to move into her second final of the season, or can Sakkari reach her own first final?

Maria Sakkari vs Alison Van Uytvanck is live from Rabat on Friday, 3 May from 3:30pm local time/ 3:30pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance

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Sakkari vs Van Uytvanck WTA Rabat Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Sakkari and Van Uytvanck battle for Rabat final spot

Maria Sakkari and Alison Van Uytvanck meet in Rabat on Friday, with a spot in the final on the line. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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