Qatar Total Open, Doha R1 Preview
?? (Q) Monica Niculescu vs ?? (wc) Maria Sharapova
Monica Niculescu and Maria Sharapova will go head-to-head for the very first time when they meet at the opening round stage of the Qatar Total Open on Monday. Maria Sharapova has accepted wild card entry into Doha and Dubai, making a rare commitment to the middle Eastern swing. Sharapova will face a unique challenge when she comes up against Niculescu in the opening round in Doha, it will be interesting to see how the Russian handles the awkward Niculescu test.
Sharapova is a two-time former champion at the Qatar Total Open having won the event way back in 2005 and 2008. It has been a while since Sharapova competed in the middle east, the 30-year-old has taken a wild into the event in an attempt to boost her relatively lowly ranking of 41 in the world and continue to build confidence after her lengthy doping ban. Sharapova showed reasonable form earlier in the year, reaching the semi-finals in Shenzhen and the third round at the Australian Open.
Monica Niculescu cruised through a tough qualifying draw at the Qatar Total Open. Niculescu easily beat Risa Ozaki and Andrea Petkovic to clinch her spot in the main draw in Doha. Niculescu has been in decent form in the early stages of 2018 having reached a couple of quarter-finals in Hobart and Taipei City.
This will be the first career meeting between the pair, how will Sharapova handle the Niculescu forehand slice?