The world number one Naomi Osaka of Japan will face Kristina Mladenovic of France in the second round of the 2019 WTA Dubai Open on Tuesday, February 19. The match is scheduled to take place at 7 pm local time (3 pm BST).
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Naomi Osaka v Kristina Mladenovic Head to Head
The pair have met once before, ironically enough at the same stage of the same tournament last year. Osaka won easily enough on that occasion beating Mladenovic 6-2, 6-2.
Osaka, World Number One, Now Coachless
Osaka has had an eventful start to the year, without a doubt. It began in brilliant fashion as she won her second Grand Slam tournament in a row, clinching the Australian Open to go with the US Open title she won last September. That also propelled her to the top of the world rankings.
She was forced to miss the last tournament in Doha with a back injury, but then surprised everyone by splitting with the coach, Sascha Bajin, who had guided her to those two Grand Slam titles.
Although there were suggestions in some quarter that the row was about money, Osaka has refuted such claims merely commenting, somewhat cryptically, that she was not willing to sacrifice her happiness by continuing to work with Bajin.
She is hoping to appoint a new coach before the start of the Indian Wells tournament in two weeks’ time. It should be interesting to see what would be the effect of the same on her performance.
Mladenovic, Doubles Specialist, but a Useful Singles Player
Although 25-year old Mladenovic is a useful singles player – she has been ranked as high as 10 although she is currently languishing at number 67 in the world rankings – she is better known for her prowess on a doubles court.
With compatriot Caroline Garcia she won the French Open in 2016, and then partnered with Timea Babos to win the Australian Open two years later. This year the pair reached the final again in Melbourne only to lose out to Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai.
She has also been in the Doubles’ finals at both Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.
Osaka v Mladenovic Predictions & Tips
Osaka will start the match as the heaviest of favourites at 1/8 (bet365) . Unless she still has problems with her back, or the split with coach Sascha Bajin has affected her more than she is implying, it is hard to see Mladenovic, who is quoted at 6/1 against, troubling her.
You can watch & bet on Naomi Osaka v Kristina Mladenovic on Tuesday, February 19. The match will be held from 3pm BST local time onward.