Naomi Osaka draws nightmare first-round matchup in Doha, Emma Raducanu gets wildcard


Naomi Osaka draws nightmare first-round matchup in Doha, Emma Raducanu gets wildcard
© Getty Images Sport - Chris Hyde

Naomi Osaka has received a nightmare first-round matchup at the Qatar Open as the former world No. 1 is set to meet again Caroline Garcia, while Emma Raducanu is also set to compete in Doha after being granted a main draw wildcard. 

In her Grand Slam return at the Australian Open, four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka didn't have much luck with her draw, drawing 2022 WTA Finals champion Garcia in the first round. 

What was expected to be a very tough matchup for Osaka turned out to be exactly that as Garcia beat the Japanese 6-4 7-6 (2) to send the Japanese packing out of Melbourne right at the start of the tournament. After the match, Osaka didn't hide her frustration and disappointment. 

Now less than a month later, Osaka is set to play against former world No. 4 Garcia again. Going into their Doha match, the head-to-head between 26-year-old Osaka and 30-year-old Garcia stands at 1-1 as the Japanese got a win over the Frenchwoman when they met for the first time at the 2021 Australian Open.

Naomi Osaka and Caroline Garcia
Naomi Osaka and Caroline Garcia© Getty Images Sport - Cameron Spencer

Osaka, who was beaten in the Doha second round in her lone appearance at the tournament in 2018, is undoubtedly set for a very tough opener in Qatar but it will also provide her a good opportunity to earn a big win and improve her confidence after losing the last three matches. 

Osaka draws Garcia, Raducanu set to meet Anhelina Kalinina

When the draw was released on Friday, it was revealed that 2021 US Open champion Raducanu received a main draw wildcard into the event. Raducanu, now ranked at No. 296 after three surgeries, drew world No. 32 Kalinina in the Doha first round. 

When Raducanu, 21, and 27-year-old Kalinina meet in Doha, it will be their second meeting. In 2022 May, Kalinina won the first and lone meeting against Raducanu, beating the Briton with a 6-2 2-6 6-4 scoreline. 

Emma Raducanu and Anhelina Kalinina
Emma Raducanu and Anhelina Kalinina© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

This week, Raducanu kicked off her Middle East swing in Abu Dhabi, where she defeated Marie Bouzkova before losing to Ons Jabeur in the round-of-16. Now, Raducanu is set for her debut appearance in Doha. 

It will be interesting to see how much Osaka and Raducanu can do in the opening WTA 1000 tournament of the year.

Naomi Osaka Emma Raducanu