Dubai: Australian Open women’s finalists, Victoria Azarenka, and Li Na are being tipped to be among the favourites at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month, a trophy both have never won.
Azarenka, who reclaimed her Australian Open after a tough three-set victory over the Chinese star, will be hoping for better luck than last year.
She arrived in Dubai suffering from an injury sustained in Doha, which failed to heal in time for her to compete.
Li Na was attempting to add the Australian Open crown to her 2011 French Open title, and although she fell short in a three-set thriller she feels she has shown significant improvement in her already fine game after joining forces with coach Carlos Rodriguez.
“I was working with him since the start of last August,” she said of Rodriguez, who guided Justine Henin to world No 1 and four Dubai titles. “He’s not only a teacher about tennis, not only about technique. He’s helped make my mind stronger on the court.”
Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free, said: “We are delighted that both Victoria Azarenka and Li Na are returning to Dubai, giving tennis fans the opportunity to see two of the best players in the world, and potentially witnessing a replay of the Australian Open final.
“Despite their success elsewhere, neither one of them has yet managed to win the title here, and we wish them both well.”
As well as the two Australian Open finalists, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships features almost every member of the world’s top 20. Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska will not give up her title without a struggle and Serena Williams will be seeking her first title in Dubai to match the ones her sister Venus claimed in 2009 and 2010.
Others seeking to lift the magnificent trophy at the end of the week include former world No 1 and 2011 Dubai winner and former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, German No 1 Angelique Kerber and the talented Italian Sara Errani.
Once the dust has settled in the WTA Tour event, the ATP World Tour arrives in town with a stellar lineup that includes defending champion Roger Federer, world No 1 Novak Djokovic, flamboyant Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Davis Cup winner Tomas Berdych and 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which take 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.
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 Dh50 for opening rounds to Dh450 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