?? Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, QF Preview
?? (1) Elina Svitolina vs ?? (wc) Naomi Osaka
Defending champion Elina Svitolina will come up against Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the opening quarter-final of the day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday. Svitolina is likely to have her work cut out here, Osaka has won the last two matches between the pair and has rolled through her first couple of matches in Dubai in straight sets. Svitolina has not been at her best in 2018 and is seemingly vulnerable heading into this match, can Osaka record a third consecutive win over the top seed?
Svitolina started her Dubai title defense with a fairly unimpressive 3 set win over Qiang Wang. Svitolina won a topsy-turvy match 6-1 5-7 6-2. Svitolina would have been very disappointed that she was not able to close out her match with Wang in straight sets, she was broken from 40-0 up to succumb the second set. Nevertheless, the top seed rebounded well enough in the deciding set to confirm a quarter-final showdown with Naomi Osaka. This match-up looms as good opportunity for Svitolina to showcase her more aggressive game.
Naomi Osaka is looking good in Dubai, the 20-year-old has blasted her way past Kristina Mladenovic and Anett Kontaveit to reach her first quarter-final since Hong Kong last year. Osaka comfortably moved past the 8th seeded Mladenovic in the opening round, winning 6-2 6-2 before surviving a late scare to beat Kontaveit 6-2 7-6. Osaka threw away a 4-1 40-0 lead in the second set and gave Kontaveit a chance to serve out the set at 5-6. Osaka managed to steady and ended the second set tiebreak with a flurry to ensure she would eventually close the match out in straight sets. Osaka’s partnership with Sascha Bajin seems like it will pay dividends.
Osaka holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Svitolina. Osaka has won the last couple of matches between the pair, both in 2016. A 6-4 6-4 win at the Australian Open and a 1-6 6-3 6-2 win in Tokyo.