Naomi Osaka vs. Kristina Mladenovic
|Date & Time||Tuesday February 19, 2019, 9:00 AM (EST)|
Aviation Club Tennis Centre
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Line: -- Over/Under:
Naomi Osaka and Kristina Mladenovic meet in the second round of the 2019 tennis Dubai.
Naomi Osaka will play for the first time since winning the Australian Open, but this time she won’t have coach Sascha Bajin on her side. The two-time grand slam winner Osaka broke up with her coach shorty ever winning the title, as she said issues between the two have bee brewing for a while. It will be interesting to see how Osaka responds to the change considering all of her big success took place under Bajin. Regardless, Osaka has won 23 of her last 28 matches, so this is somebody who is red hot entering this tournament and has to be considered one of the strong contenders. Osaka has won nine of her last 10 matches on hard court.
Kristina Mladenovic is coming off a straight sets win over Fatma Al Nabhani that took 14 games to decide. In the victory, Mladenovic won 77 percent of her first serve points and 35 percent of her second serve points. Mladenovic won 59 percent of her total service points and converted on seven of her 13 break points. Mladenovic entered this tournament on a five-match losing streak, so a straight sets win was just what the doctor ordered. Mladenovic now has a chance to win back-to-back matches in a main tour event for the first time since Linz back in October. Of course, Mladenovic’s serve will be the make or break factor in competing in this match. Mladenovic has 12 career wins over top-10 players, with her most recent coming in Cincinnati of last year. Mladenovic has lost four of her last seven matches on hard court.
These two have played once, which was in Dubai of last year, a match Osaka won in straight sets. The match took 16 games to be decided.
I’m less concerned about Osaka’s coaching breakup than I am with Haelp’s, as Naomi is far more even-keeled and doesn’t have the constant mode swings that can impact her play. Osaka should be able to go about her business as usual. Mladenovic has had serious issues with her second serve and that’s not going to fly against the hard-hitting and aggressive Osaka.
Give me Osaka in straight sets.