Doha champion Elise Mertens bids to keep her Middle East hot streak going at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, while 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki and former Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko are also in first-round action. Scroll down for full order of play.
Alex Macpherson
February 17, 2019

MATCH POINTS

No.16 seed Elise Mertens, fresh off the biggest title of her career to date in Doha, will reprise her Tianjin 2018 first-round match against qualifier Zhu Lin today; the Belgian won that bout, their only previous encounter, 7-5, 6-1.

No.14 seed Caroline Garcia opened 2019 with first-round losses in three of her first four tournaments - but kickstarted her year in Fed Cup first-round play two weeks ago, going unbeaten against Elise Mertens and Alison Van Uytvanck to notch up her first Top 100 wins of the season. Garcia trails Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-3, having lost to the Russian in straight sets at Moscow 2013, Indian Wells 2014 and Monterrey 2017 before capturing a first win 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 in the second round of Tokyo last year - saving three match points along the way.

Carla Suárez Navarro has been playing against Barbora Strycova for over a decade, and dominates the head-to-head 8-1. The pair first squared off in the first round of Palermo in 2008, won by the Spaniard 7-5, 7-6(2); Strycova would win their second encounter in Acapulco the following year, but has not won a set in seven more meetings over the next decade, including a 6-0, 6-0 loss in Oeiras in 2014. Remarkably, Suárez Navarro and Strycova did not play on hard courts until New Haven last year, their most recent match, won by Suárez Navarro 7-6(6), 6-4.

Both of No.15 seed Anett Kontaveit's previous meetings with Zhang Shuai have been three-set affairs, and both were won in 6-1 deciding sets by the Estonian. Kontaveit was triumphant 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the ITF W100 event in Vancouver in 2015, and 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in the third round of Wuhan last year.

No.9 seed Caroline Wozniacki is one of four previous Dubai champions to have started in this year's main draw, along with Simona Halep, Sara Errani and Elina Svitolina. The 2011 winner lost her only previous match against Stefanie Voegele 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the 2013 Charleston quarterfinals.

Ons Jabeur and Donna Vekic have split two previous meetings, with the Tunisian winning 7-5, 6-1 in the first round of Linz in 2014 and Vekic gaining her revenge 7-6(5), 6-4 in the second round of Beijing last year.

San Jose champion Mihaela Buzarnescu will seek to snap a 10-match losing streak against Hobart champion Sofia Kenin in the pair's first meeting. Last summer, Buzarnescu found the best form of her career curtailed after the Romanian suffered an ankle injury in Montréal, and she has not won a match since returning to the game in Beijing last September. This year, though, she has taken three former Top 10 players to three sets - Belinda Bencic in Hobart, Venus Williams at the Australian Open and Jelena Ostapenko in Doha last week.

Former World No.5 Jelena Ostapenko defeated Jennifer Brady 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 in their only previous encounter, in Stuttgart qualifying in 2017 - two months before the Latvian won her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.

ORDER OF PLAY (all courts start 12 noon)

CENTRE COURT
Ons JABEUR (TUN) vs Donna VEKIC (CRO)
Julia GOERGES (GER) [13] vs Alison RISKE (USA)
[Q] Jennifer BRADY (USA) vs Jelena OSTAPENKO (LAT)
[Q] ZHU Lin (CHN) vs Elise MERTENS (BEL) [16]
Not before 7pm
Caroline WOZNIACKI (DEN) [9] vs [LL] Stefanie VOEGELE (SUI)
Caroline GARCIA (FRA) [14] vs Anastasia PAVLYUCHENKOVA (RUS)

COURT 1
Sofia KENIN (USA) vs Mihaela BUZARNESCU (ROU)
Katerina SINIAKOVA (CZE) vs Petra MARTIC (CRO)
Barbora STRYCOVA (CZE) vs Carla SUÁREZ NAVARRO (ESP)
Not before 7pm
[Q] Lara ARRUABARRENA (ESP) vs Dominika CIBULKOVA (SVK)

COURT 2
Shuko AOYAMA (JPN) / Lidziya MAROZAVA (BLR) vs Viktoria KUZMOVA (SVK) / Ajla TOMLJANOVIC (AUS)
[ALT] / [ALT] vs Lucie HRADECKA (CZE) / Ekaterina MAKAROVA (RUS) [7]
Anna-Lena GROENEFELD (GER) / Demi SCHUURS (NED) [8] vs Mihaela BUZARNESCU (ROU) / Alicja ROSOLSKA (POL)

COURT 3
[LL] Dalila JAKUPOVIC (SLO) vs [Q] Zarina DIYAS (KAZ)
ZHANG Shuai (CHN) vs Anett KONTAVEIT (EST) [15]
Andreja KLEPAC (SLO) / ZHENG Saisai (CHN) vs Ons JABEUR (TUN) / Alison RISKE (USA)
CHAN Hao-Ching (TPE) / Latisha CHAN (TPE) [9] vs Elise MERTENS (BEL) / Aryna SABALENKA (BLR)

COURT 7
Nadiia KICHENOK (UKR) / Veronika KUDERMETOVA (RUS) vs [WC] Sarah Beth GREY (GBR) / Eden SILVA (GBR)
Belinda BENCIC (SUI) / Daria KASATKINA (RUS) vs Irina BARA (ROU) / Dalila JAKUPOVIC (SLO)
Eugenie BOUCHARD (CAN) / Sofia KENIN (USA) vs Abigail SPEARS (USA) / YANG Zhaoxuan (CHN)