Sport | Tennis

Can Serena and Azarenka break their Dubai duck?

American ace and world number one poised for gripping contest from next week

  • Staff Report
  • Published: 14:53 February 12, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: EPA
  • Victoria Azarenka of Belarus holds the winner's trophy during a photo opportunity after her win over Li Na of China in the women's singles final match, at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 27 January 2012.
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Dubai: Two great tennis champions, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams, could be on course for a final showdown at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next week.

Both players have asserted their dominance in Grand Slams, but neither has held the Dubai Duty Free trophy aloft, so organisers are expecting a tough contest as they attempt to dethrone reigning champion Agnieszka Radwanska.

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman of tournament owners and organisers, Dubai Duty Free, said: “We are looking forward to two tremendous finals this year, and with the world’s top two players in the both the men’s and women’s fields, many are speculating on the possible winners. It will certainly be a gripping contest if Serena Williams meets the world number one Victoria Azarenka in the women’s final. But, with so many top players, the outcome is never certain. We look forward to what will be a fascinating contest for the title.”

Serena, the reigning Wimbledon, Olympic and US Open champion, may be the favourite, but Azarenka proved she will be tough to beat as she started the season with a run to the semi-finals in Brisbane and then retained her Australian Open title with a hard-fought victory over Li Na. Her form in Dubai has, however, been patchy.

She made a sensational debut here in 2010, reaching the final before losing a closely contested final to Venus Williams. But in 2011 she lost in the third round. Last year her visit ended in frustration when she arrived in Dubai as the newly crowned world number one, but with an ankle injury that failed to heal in time for her to compete.

Serena Williams has won almost everything there is to win in tennis, and this year she made an impression by winning in Brisbane and reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open before an injured ankle played a part in her loss to fellow American Sloane Stephens. But, so far, she has yet to reach the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, having fallen victim to injury in 2005, and losing to sister Venus in the semi-finals in 2009.

The world’s top two players lead a field that features eight of the top 10, including reigning champion Agnieszka Radwanska. Also vying for the title will be former winner Caroline Wozniacki as well as 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2011 US Open winner Samantha Stosur.

The WTA event will be followed by the ATP World Tour event commencing on February 25. This will feature world number 1 Novak Djokovic, defending champion Roger Federer, as well as top 10 rivals Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin Del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which take place from February 18 to March 2, are owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of High Highness Shaikh Mohammed 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 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

+971 4 4172415.

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