Dubai: The arrival of a new world number one will be the highlight of the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open that gets under way at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on Monday.
Entering the Qatar Open semi-finals with a three-set win over Petra Kvitova last week ensured it would be Serena Williams who brings the bragging rights of being the oldest women’s world number one to the UAE.
And, as she lands in Dubai on Monday morning after Sunday night’s Qatar Open final against Victoria Azarenka, Williams will be hoping to continue her incredible streak of just three defeats in her last 60 matches.
“For us it is a great moment to have Serena come to Dubai with the aim of winning the title for the first time,” tournament director Salah Tahlak told Gulf News.
“Her sister [Venus] has won here on two occasions in the past and now it would be nice to have Serena attempt a win here,” he added.
Play for the main draw will get under way at 2pm on the colourful centre court and three side courts of the Dubai Tennis Stadium. Prior to that, the final round of qualifying will be completed, with two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova among the high-profile hopefuls.
“There has been a tussle for places in the main draw and we can expect some tough matches this year too,” Tahlak said.
Eight of the top ten players and 17 of the top-20 have been confirmed in the main draw in the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open.
“Very few tournaments in the world can boast so many of the top players, and we are delighted that so many of them make the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships one of their stops on the WTA Tour,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman, Dubai Duty Free.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska will be defending her title while also aiming to become only the third player — Justine Henin and Venus Williams are the former two — in the tournament’s history to win back-to-back titles.
The opening round matches to be held on Monday and Tuesday have a few interesting line-ups with probably the best one involving Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and former world number one Ana Ivanovic.
Great Britain’s wild card entrant Laura Robson — who reportedly had her jewellery missing on arrival in Dubai on Sunday — will definitely have a huge following as she takes on gutsy Kazakh girl Yulia Putintseva, who was the losing finalist to Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm at the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge in December last year.
The two-week Dubai Tennis Championships is owned and organised by the Dubai Duty Free under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.