Doha | Preview: Raducanu to play in strong Qatar Open field

Britain’s Emma Raducanu has been invited to compete next week at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open as a wild-card, and she joins a strong field led by World No 1 Iga Swiatek that includes 7 of the Top 10, with the only absentees being Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, who is taking a rest, and Jessica Pegula and Karolina Muchova both injured.

It was a tough match. Ons is a difficult opponent so credit to her, she played really well and it’s just a match that personally I need to forget about. Emma Raducanu

21-year-old Raducanu is the sole Brit in the draw, and she will face Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina, ranked 32 in the world, whom she has played once before, on the clay courts of Madrid in 2022, where Kalinina won a close contest in 3 sets.

The winner of the match will take on big-hitting 8th seed Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia, who has won 2 titles this season, and receives a bye in the 1st-round.

Raducanu has shown early promise after returning to the tour at the beginning of January following her recovery from 3 operations last spring, on both her wrists and left ankle.

A comprehensive 1st-round win over Marie Bouzkova in Abu Dhabi saw Raducanu produce some of her best form since her 2021 US Open triumph in New York, but she was disappointed by a 6-4 6-1 defeat against Jabeur.

“It was a tough match,” said Raducanu. “Ons is a difficult opponent so credit to her, she played really well and it’s just a match that personally I need to forget about.”


Iga Swiatek (R) and Marketa Vondrousova practiced tennis drills together during a media interaction ahead of the 2024 Qatar Open on Friday

WTA/Jimmie48/WTAtennis.com

The Qatar Open, the first WTA 1000 event of the season, sees both Swiatek and Coco Gauff return to the tour for the first time since the Australian Open.

Belarusian Sabalenka, the World No 2 who won Doha in 2020, is skipping the event, which starts on Sunday, 11 February, for the second consecutive year.

The 22nd edition of the tournament will be played on outdoor hard courts at the International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha, and features top women players such as two-time defending champion Swiatek, Gauff, Elena Rybakina, and Jabeur.

In Sabalenka’s absence, Gauff is the No 2 seed and she arrives in Doha coming off semi-final or better runs at her past 6 tournaments, including her latest at the Australian Open.

After a bye, the 19-year-old American will face either Czech Katerina Siniakova or Donna Vekic from Croatia in the 2nd-round.


Jelena Ostapenko has already won 2 titles this year, the latest coming in Linz, Austria

© Barbara Gindl/APA/ via Getty Images

Swiatek returns to Doha bidding to become the first player to win a tournament in 3 consecutive years after Serena Williams won Miami from 2013 to 2015.

Doha will be her first tournament since her 3rd-round loss to the young Czech, Linda Noskova, in Melbourne, and, after her 1st-round bye, the 22-year old Pole will face either Sorana Cirstea from Romania or American Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion.

Along with Swiatek, Ostapenko anchors the top quarter of the draw, and the Latvian comes into Doha as one of the hottest players on tour, having captured her 2nd title of the season in Linz, while she has made the final in singles or doubles at all the 4 tournaments she has played this year.

No 10 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia from Brazil and Belarusian Victoria Azarenka are also looming in Ostapenko’s section, and she could face either in the Round of 16, with Azarenka being the only player to have defeated the Latvian this year.


Naomi Osaka (L) and Caroline Garcia met at the Australian Open last month, where Garcia won in straight sets, and the two will play again in Doha

© David Gray/AFP via Getty Images

No 4 seed Jabeur from Tunisia, and Maria Sakkari, the 7th seed from Greece, anchor the second quarter, which includes former World No 1 Naomi Osaka, who returns to Doha for the first time since 2018.

The Japanese will face France’s Caroline Garcia for the second time this season, their 1st-round encounter being a rematch of their contest at the Australian Open, which Garcia won, 6-4 7-6(2).

Jabeur will face either Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko or Turkish wild-card Zeynep Sonmez in the 2nd-round, with the winner of the Garcia-Osaka match possibly waiting in the Round of 16.

Sakkari will face either Noskova or a qualifier in her opener, while Barbora Krejcikova, who is coming off back-to-back quarter-finals in Melbourne and Abu Dhabi, is also in the Greek’s section, and the Czech will open against Anastasia Potapova from Russia.


19-year old Coco Gauff is the No 2 seed in Doha

© Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

Alongside Gauff, No 3 seed Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan, 5th-seeded Zheng Qinwen from China and No 6 Marketa Vondrousova from the Czech Republic are the top seeds in the bottom half of the draw.

Rybakina, who is currently in the semi-finals in Abu Dhabi, will face either Varvara Gracheva from France or China’s Zhu Lin.

Zheng, who is playing in her first tournament since playing the Australian Open final and making her Top 10 debut, will play either Poland’s Magda Linette or a qualifier in the 2nd-round.


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