Tennis fans know it: you don’t even have time to breath after Doha, because it’s already time for Dubai!
The two Arabic tournaments are indeed what keeps tennis people warm between the Australian Open and Indian Wells. Each year, they alternate their status of Premier and Premier 5. In 2018, Doha has been a Premier 5, whereas Dubai is going to be a Premier, hence giving less points to the winner.
Nevertheless, the entry list includes six Top 10 players–indeed, Dubai prize money is known to be pretty high. Apart from Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams and Julia Goerges also gave the tournament a pass. Six Top 10 players and a last direct acceptance of #39 clearly guarantee a bunch of pop-corn first rounds. Here, I am going to deal with some of those, precisely the ones I’m looking forward to.
(5) Caroline Garcia vs Lucie Safarova
Both ladies can play a tremendous aggressive tennis. Moreover, Lucie Safarova gifted fans with the to-date match of the year in Sydney, when she surrendered in three sets to eventual champion Angelique Kerber. They both suffered an early exit in Doha. The Czech was ousted by super in-form Julia Goerges in the first round, whereas the French was outclassed by Dominika Cibulkova. Certainly, the crave for a revenge is lit inside the heart of both ladies. Grab your pop-corn, tennis fans!
(WC) Naomi Osaka vs (8) Kristina Mladenovic
The Japanese young rising star was apparently forced to play qualies, given the tough cut at #39. However, the organizers decided to gift her a wildcard, and here she is, playing Mladenovic in R1. The French interrupted in S. Petersburg what seemed to be a never ending losing streak, and she eventually reached the final. I honestly see Osaka as a big favorite, but Mladenovic seems to be back to her winning spirit. This match will surely be a good proof, otherwise it’s going to be two straight losses for the French, and ghosts may haunt her again…
Daria Kasatkina vs Agnieszka Radwanska
Honestly, I was slightly uncertain whether to put this match-up among the “pop-cornest” five. The reason lays in the fact that, when they faced each other in Beijing last year, their match was, how can I say that, one of the most boring I have ever seen. However, I am still confident in the fact that both women are able to show high-class tennis, and they surely represent a pause from hard hitting matches. Drop shots, volleys, backspins… they can be boring, I know, but also incredibly entertaining. I expect the latter. I think you all should, as well.
Barbora Strycova vs (6) Angelique Kerber
The former World #1 is one of the most in form players of this beginning of the season. She completed the Hopman Cup with a 4/0 W-L ratio, she won the title in Sydney, and her two only losses came at the Australian Open and in Doha to the #1 and #2 of the world. On the other side of the net, the always fun to watch Czech, who usually wins matches against lower-ranked players, and tends to lose those again higher-ranked players. Regardless, her matches are thoroughly dramatic, and come on, let’s be honest… we need drama as much as we need oxygen. Or maybe not.
Elena Vesnina vs Shuai Peng
The choice of this last match-up is probably biased by my unconditioned love for Shuai Peng. Her two-handed forehands, her dropshots, the power she is able to find out of nowhere really light me up. On the other side on the net, Elena Vesnina. In a month, she will lose her 1000 points derived from her Indian Wells win last year. I think she need to start playing her best tennis… and I think she is perfectly aware of that.
Tomorrow, we are going to find out the four qualified players who made it to the main draw. Samantha Stosur, Sara Errani, Arina Sabalenka are some of the players competing. We may have to add some other pop-corn first round matches…