Naomi Osaka learns qualifier she will be facing in Abu Dhabi is Grand Slam finalist

Osaka set to face a qualifier in the first round but it will be everything but an easy matchup.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Naomi Osaka learns qualifier she will be facing in Abu Dhabi is Grand Slam finalist
© Getty Images Sport - Bradley Kanaris

Naomi Osaka is set for a tricky Abu Dhabi first-round matchup as the Japanese has learned that the qualifier she will be facing in Abu Dhabi will be former world No. 7 Danielle Collins. 

After the Abu Dhabi Open draw was released on Saturday, four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka drew a qualifier. Collins, who lost to Ashleigh Barty in the 2022 Australian Open final, was among the players who were set to attempt to earn an Abu Dhabi main draw spot through the qualifying event. 

On Saturday, Collins ousted Despina Papamichail 6-2 6-3 to safely reach the Abu Dhabi qualifying final round. The following day, Collins saw off rising star Linda Fruhvirtova 6-4 6-3 to make the Abu Dhabi main draw. 

After the Abu Dhabi qualifying was concluded on Sunday, six qualifiers were placed in the main draw. Collins, who was expected to make it past the Abu Dhabi qualifying since she was one of the biggest names competing in it, was drawn to face Osaka in the first round. 

Naomi Osaka and Danielle Collins
Naomi Osaka and Danielle Collins© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman
 

Osaka, Collins set to face off at the start of Abu Dhabi

When Osaka, 26, and 30-year-old Collins meet in Abu Dhabi, it will be their fifth meeting. Going into the match, Osaka owns a 3-1 head-to-head against Collins.

In their first meeting at the 2018 China Open, Osaka demolished Collins 6-1 6-0 in the Beijing second round. The following year, Osaka claimed another routine win over Collins, beating the American 6-4 6-2 in Indian Wells. 

They didn't play again until 2022, when Osaka dismantled Collins 6-2 6-1 in Miami. After losing the first three meetings against Osaka, Collins finally got her first victory over the Japanese after claiming a 7-6 (5) 6-3 win at the 2022 US Open.

Naomi Osaka and Danielle Collins
Naomi Osaka and Danielle Collins© Getty Images Sport - Sarah Stier
 

After being sidelined for 16 months, Osaka started her post-pregnancy comeback in January and she is 1-2 after her opening two tournaments. On the other side, Collins also picked up a couple of early exits at the start of the 2024 season. 

Osaka and Collins may not be playing their best tennis right now but there is no doubt that it is going to be an attractive first-round matchup in Abu Dhabi.

Naomi Osaka
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