|18 February, 2019

Halep versus Bouchard pick of the battles

World No. 1 Osaka, No.2 Kvitova and No.3 Halep will be in action on Tuesday

Fans await a blockbuster show as the biggest names in the game will start their campaign in the 27th edition of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

The award-winning tournament that has attracted nine of the world's top 10 players will unleash its biggest names as the WTA's three top stars - world number one Naomi Osaka, world number two Petra Kvitova and world number three Simona Halep - will step onto the court for their respective second round games on Tuesday.

Osaka, Kvitova and Halep will be joined by world number five Karolina Pliskova, world number six Angelique Kerber, world number seven and two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina, world number eight Kiki Bertens and world number nine Aryna Sabalenka.


Such is the strength of the field that two-time Grand Slam winner and world number 15 Garbine Muguruza will play her second round match on Court One against Saisai Zheng of China.

Osaka, the youngest woman since Martina Hingis to win back-to-back Grand Slams, will be playing her first tournament as world number one.

The 21-year-old Japanese superstar will begin her campaign against Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic who beat Omani wild card Fatma Al Nabhani 6-1 6-1 in the first round on Sunday.

This will also be Osaka's first match since parting ways with her coach Sascha Bajin.

Meanwhile, Svitolina begins her bid to become the first woman to win three straight Dubai titles against the highest ranked Arab player in the world - Ons Jabeur.

The world number 56 from Tunisia beat Croatian Donna Vekic to set up a second round clash with Svitolina.

"Elina, well, we know each other from our junior days, so it's going to be a tough match for both of us," the 24-year-old Jabeur said after her win on Monday.

"We had some interesting match two years ago. I am just going to try my best and hopefully I go for the win."

But the match of the day will undoubtedly be the one between reigning French Open champion Halep and Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up.

The 24-year-old Bouchard, who entered the Dubai tournament on a wild card, is aiming to regain her best form.

The Canadian was impressive in her straight set (6-3 6-4) first round win over Vera Lapko of Belarus on Sunday night.

"Yeah, it's always a great opportunity to play the best players in the world," said Bouchard when asked about Halep, her next opponent.

"I just want to give everything. Let's see what happens.

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