Dubai: Women’s tennis superstar Serena Williams and world number one Victoria Azarenka have expressed their excitement about taking part in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which gets under way in just under a month’s time.
Williams last year underlined her position as one of the greatest ever to play the game during yet another stellar season, which saw her claim not only Wimbledon, the US Open and WTA Championships titles, but a gold medal in both singles and doubles at the London Olympics.
This year she carried on where she left off at the end of last season by sweeping her way through the draw to win her 47th career singles title in Brisbane. She is now through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, where she has yet to drop a set.
“The Dubai title is a tough one to get, but it is definitely on my radar this year,” said Williams. “I would really like to do well this year.”
Azarenka was unable to play here last year, despite arriving in Dubai fresh off her triumph at the Australian Open, where she defeated Maria Sharapova to win her maiden Grand Slam title. She also won in Doha, but en-route to claiming the title there she injured her ankle. Despite receiving treatment in Dubai it failed to heal in time for her to play.
Azarenka did some of her off-season training in Dubai, and is looking forward to playing this year. “I didn’t get to play last year so I am looking forward to it this year,” she said.
“Both Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka have proved themselves to be great champions at the very highest level of the game,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman of Tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free. “But neither have yet won the title here in Dubai and they will be very keen to fill that space in their trophy cabinet.”
But both Williams and Azarenka will face formidable hurdles as they vie for the coveted Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title, with 17 of the world’s top 20 players expected to compete.
Defending Dubai champion and 2012 Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska has already sent out a warning that she will not surrender her title lightly as she steamrollered her way through both Auckland and Sydney without conceding a set, at the same time becoming only the third player in 13 years to win a final without the loss of a game. Like Williams and Azarenka, Radwanska has also made it through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open
Caroline Wozniacki is also keen to re-capture the title she surrendered last year, and her challenge will be matched by the title ambitions of others such as 2011 French Open champion Li Na, 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, top-ranked German Angelique Kerber and ambitious Italian Sara Errani.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which takes place from February 18 to March 2, is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The WTA event will be followed by the ATP World Tour event, commencing on February 25, which will feature world number 1 Novak Djokovic, defending champion Roger Federer, as well as top-ten rivals Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin Del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic.
Tickets for the event are on sale from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, which is open from 9am to 9pm daily. Grandstand ticket prices range from 50dhs for opening rounds to 450dhs for finals, with season tickets also available.
For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament, visit http://www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com, or phone the call centre on