Osaka, Raducanu face tough early draws in Abu Dhabi

Osaka, Raducanu face tough early draws in Abu Dhabi

Wild cards Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu could face the top seeds early at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. The WTA 500 tournament, which is played on the outdoor hard courts at the Zayed Sports City International Centre, begins on Monday, Feb. 5. 

Abu Dhabi: Draws | Scores | Schedule

World No.5 Elena Rybakina and No.6 Ons Jabeur top the draw, followed by No.9 Maria Sakkari and No.11 Barbora Krejcikova.

Former No.1 Osaka was drawn into Rybakina’s top half of the draw and could play the 2022 Wimbledon champion in the second round. Osaka, who went 1-2 in her comeback in Australia, will open her tournament against a qualifier. 

Belinda Bencic won the title last year, saving three match points in the final to edge past Liudmila Samsonova. Bencic will not defend her title as she is currently out on maternity leave. Samsonova is seeded No.8 and will face Lesia Tsurenko in the first round. 

Coming off her resurgent quarterfinal result in Melbourne, No.4 seed Krejcikova was drawn into the top half of the draw. After a first-round bye, the Czech will face either Veronika Kudermetova or a qualifier.

Also floating in the top half is No.5 seed Jelena Ostapenko, who has enjoyed an outstanding start to the 2024 season. Already a champion in Adelaide, Ostapenko has made the final four of this week’s WTA 500 tournament in Linz. 

Paula Badosa, who was forced to retire in Hua Hin this week due to back injury, remains in the draw in Abu Dhabi. She will face Anhelina Kalinina in the first round. 

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In the bottom half of the draw, 2021 US Open champion Raducanu will face the Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova in the first round. The winner of that match will take on No.2 seed Jabeur in the second round.

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No.3 seed Sakkari will face either Caroline Garcia or Sorana Cirstea in the second round. The Greek has won her last three meetings against Garcia. In contrast, Sakkari earned her first win in three tries over Cirstea last summer in Cincinnati. Garcia and Cirstea have split their four previous meetings. 

Also in the bottom half of the draw are No.6 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia and No.7 seed Daria Kasatkina. Haddad Maia will face Chinese wild card Wang Xiyu in the first round. Wang will face a quick turnaround in Abu Dhabi after her strong run to the Hua Hin semifinals this week. 

Rounding out the marquee appearances, 18-year-old Alexandra Eala of the Philippines was granted a main-draw wild card. The 2022 US Open girls’ champion will play Poland’s Magda Linette in the first round. 

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