?? Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, R1 Preview
?? (8) Kristina Mladenovic vs ?? (wc) Naomi Osaka
Kristina Mladenovic and Naomi Osaka will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the opening round stage of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday evening. The 8th seeded Frenchwoman’s fortunes have reversed of late, the resurgent Mladenovic will aim to continue to build momentum in Dubai but will face a very tough opening test against the powerful Japanese player.
Kristina Mladenovic slumped to 15 consecutive defeats when she lost to Ana Bogdan in the opening round of the Australian Open last month but has certainly turned things around since then. Mladenovic went on to win the doubles title in Melbourne before reaching the final in St. Petersburg and guiding France to the Fed Cup semi-finals. Mladenovic did however suffer a disappointing straight set loss in the second round in Doha last week where she was beaten by Anna Blinkova. Mladenovic has a heap of points to defend starting from next week in Acapulco and Indian Wells so it will be interesting to see how she approaches this week in Dubai.
Naomi Osaka was originally scheduled to compete in the qualifying draw in Dubai but received a late wild card courtesy of a few late withdrawals from the main draw. It has been a decent start to the year for Osaka, the 20-year-old reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open and more recently, came through the qualifying draw in Doha last week before being thoroughly outplayed in the second round by Anastasija Sevastova. Osaka is expected to rise up the rankings in 2018.
It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out in the first career meeting between the pair.