Naomi Osaka set on collision course with top seed Elena Rybakina

Naomi Osaka 2024
Naomi Osaka reacts celebrates in Brisbane

Naomi Osaka will face Elena Rybakina in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Open if she can get beyond a qualifier first up.

Osaka was handed a wildcard for the WTA 500 event as she continues her comeback.

Osaka, who went 1-2 in her competitive comeback in Australia, will open her tournament against an opponent determined over the weekend’s qualifying tournament.

While she missed the whole 2023 campaign, Osaka hasn’t really played a full season since the 2019.

Osaka beat German journeywoman Tamara Korpatsch on her full return to the WTA Tour in Brisbane but lost a three set battle with Karolina Pliskova to exit her comeback event in the second round.

She lost her first-round match against Carolina Garcia nat the Australian Open in straight sets.

Meanwhile, another wildcard Emma Raducanu will face the Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova her first-round assignment.

The winner of the Raducanu vs Bouzkova match will move on take on No 2 seed Jabeur in the second round.

Last year, Belinda Bencic won the championship after saving three match points in the final to defeat Liudmila Samsonova.

Bencic, now on maternity leave, will not defend her championship. Samsonova is seeded eighth and will face Lesia Tsurenko in the first round.

Following her strong semifinal performance in Melbourne, No 4 seed Krejcikova was put into the top half.

Following her first-round bye, the Czech will face either Veronika Kudermetova or a qualifier.

Also in the top half is No 5 seed Jelena Ostapenko, who has had an excellent start to the 2024 season.

Ostapenko, already a champion in Adelaide, has advanced to the final of this week’s WTA 500 tournament in Linz.

Paula Badosa, who was forced to retire in Hua Hin earlier this week due to a back ailment, is still in the draw in Abu Dhabi.

She’ll face Anhelina Kalinina in the first round if she doesn’t withdraw.

Sakkari, the third seed, will face Caroline Garcia or Sorana Cirstea in the second round.

Sakkari has won her last three encounters with Garcia. Sakkari, on the other hand, won her maiden match against Cirstea after three attempts in Cincinnati last summer.

Garcia and Cirstea have split their last four encounters evenly.

Beatriz Haddad Maia and Daria Kasatkina, seeded sixth and seventh respectively, are also in the bottom half of the draw.

Haddad Maia will face Chinese wildcard Wang Xiyu in the first round. Wang will have a tight turnaround in Abu Dhabi following her impressive run to the Hua Hin semifinals last week.

Alexandra Eala of the Philippines, 18, received a wild card into the main draw, the 2022 US Open girls’ champion will face Poland’s Magda Linette in the first round.

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