Naomi Osaka on course for Abu Dhabi blockbuster versus top-5 star in round-of-16

Osaka projected to meet a Grand Slam champion in the Abu Dhabi round-of-16.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Naomi Osaka on course for Abu Dhabi blockbuster versus top-5 star in round-of-16
© Getty Images Sport - Bradley Kanaris

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka received a favorable Abu Dhabi first-round draw by drawing a qualifier but didn't have much luck in potentially meeting No. 1 seed Elena Rybakina in her next match.

Osaka, 26, is set to make her debut at a WTA 250 tournament in Abu Dhabi. Osaka, who is ranked at No. 759 after launching her post-pregnancy comeback at the start of the year, will very likely have a favorable matchup in the Abu Dhabi first round considering that she is taking on a qualifier. 

But if Osaka beats a qualifier, then it will get extremely tough for the Japanese, who will then be clashing against 2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina. Should Osaka, 26, and 24-year-old Rybakina meet in the Abu Dhabi round-of-16, that would be their first meeting. However, considering that Osaka is just at the start of her comeback, it would be fair and reasonable to consider Rybakina the favorite. 

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Graham Denholm
 

Osaka wants to win and now 

Before kicking off her post-pregnancy comeback at the Brisbane International, Osaka was out of action for 16 months. After going 1-1 in Brisbane, Osaka received a pretty tough Australian Open first-round draw and lost to Caroline Garcia 6-4 7-6 (2).

Although Osaka was just playing in her third match back and Garcia was a really difficult opponent, the Japanese was still frustrated after losing the match. 

“The competitive in me is really frustrated that I’m not winning these matches, of course. So I wouldn’t say, like, this comeback is how I thought because I’m delusional enough to think I could have won the tournament," Osaka said after her Australian Open exit.

“I think my delusion is what allows me to win the tournaments. I think my delusion is what allows me to win the tournaments."

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Graham Denholm
 

Osaka's comments in Melbourne clearly indicated that the former world No. 1 wants to win now and it will be interesting to see how she does if she meets Rybakina in Abu Dhabi.

Naomi Osaka
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