ABU DHABI: Emma Raducanu will meet Ons Jabeur in a last-16 clash at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open presented by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, after the Brit showed her class in a comfortable win over the Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova on Monday night.
Having returned to action at the start of the year following several injuries, Raducanu took some time to find her rhythm, and it was Bouzkova who looked the more assured in the opening stages as she won the first two games.
However, the 2021 US Open champion began to get a foothold in the game with a couple of exquisite drop-shots, an indication of what was to follow. And when she levelled the first set at 4-4, the balance of the contest swung in her favor.
Raducanu won the next two games to claim the first set, and from that point onwards there was only ever going to be one outcome.
A dominant display in the second set saw the Brit produce some wonderful tennis, and she eventually won 6-4, 6-1to book a date with world No. 6 Jabeur on Wednesday.
On the prospect of facing Jabeur, Raducanu said: “We played here a year ago, just about, at the Mubadala Exhibition and it was a great match for the fans. She’s definitely the home favorite here and rightfully so.
“I really like Ons. She’s someone who’s kind of taken me under her wing as I’ve been new to the tour. I’m really looking forward to it because a lot of people were saying to me, ‘Oh, Ons, Ons, Ons,’ and I was like, I’m playing Maria, who’s ranked like 30th in the world and that’s not an easy match.
“I’m really pleased to put myself in this situation and yeah, I’m going out with nothing to lose against her.”
The day’s opening contest was an all-American affair as Ashlyn Krueger and Bernarda Pera went head-to-head for a place in the last 16.
The duo served up an entertaining spectacle, and it was Krueger who eventually prevailed 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.
Another three-set thriller followed as Sorana Cirstea fought back from one set down to overcome Grand Slam semifinalist Caroline Garcia 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, a contest which ebbed and flowed as both players produced moments of quality.
Krueger and Cirstea are joined in the last 16 by Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia who defeated China’s Xiyu Wang in straight sets.
Haddad Maia dominated the early stages and took the first set 6-2, but was made to work hard by the three-time junior Grand Slam winner in the second, which was eventually settled via a tie-break for a 6-2, 7-6 victory.
Fans were treated to another quality match on Stadium Court between Daria Kasatkina and Diane Parry as the pair battled for a place in the next round.
After Kasatkina had won a tight first set 6-4, French star Parry rallied and fought back to claim the second 7-5.
The third set followed a similar theme to the previous two, with little separating the players, but it was Kasatkina who clinched it 6-4 to book her place in the next round.
Monday also marked the beginning of the tournament’s doubles competition, with American pairing Caroline Dolehide and Desirae Krawczyk defeating Cristina Bucsa and Monica Niculescu in straight sets to progress. And Hao Ching-Chan and Giuliana Olmos are also through to the next round after overcoming Anhelina Kalinina and Yifan Xu.
The crowd was bolstered by thousands of local children who attended the event as part of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open Schools Program. Among these was a nationwide art competition, from which a selection of entries is on display in the Fan Village.
Naomi Osaka and Jabeur will play together in the doubles competition on Tuesday, while the Japanese former world No. 1 also faces a highly anticipated singles match against America’s Danielle Collins, a 2022 Australian Open finalist.
Brit Heather Watson takes on Veronika Kudermetova in another intriguing contest while talented Filipino star Alex Eala is set to make her first appearance at the tournament.