Dubai: Former world No.1 Angelique Kerber will be hoping to end her semi-final jinx at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next week, where she ended up going down to the eventual champion Elina Svitolina in last two editions in 2017-18.

The resurgent German wants to build on her good form which saw her adding trophies from both Sydney and Wimbledon in 2018 and she made a comfortable start to 2019 by reaching the quarter-finals in Sydney before losing to the player who would go on to claim her crown, Petra Kvitova. She progressed to the fourth round of the Australian Open where she fell to the surprise of the tournament, Danielle Collins.

Her Wimbledon triumph last year saw her claim a third Grand Slam title in three years, a period that also saw her reach a further final, a semifinal and a quarter-final at other Grand Slam events.

“I like to play in Dubai,” said Kerber, who is naturally right-handed but plays with her left on the eve of her eighth trip here for the event beginning on February 17. “I like the weather. It’s always nice. Yeah, it’s sunny. You have the hotel on-site. I think I just try to really enjoy my stay here every year.”

Her success saw her chosen as the WTA Player of the Year in 2016 and be nominated again in 2018, she was voted German Sportswoman of the Year in both 2016 and 2018, she received the ITF World Champion award in 2016, the same year she was nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportswoman of the Year. In 2017, she was the world’s second highest-paid female athlete according to Forbes.

“Angelique Kerber is often overlooked as one of the best players on the WTA Tour, although her record in Grand Slams in particular over the past few years is second to none,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “She is only one tournament away from claiming a career Grand Slam, something that is rarely achieved and then only by the very best. We look forward to seeing how she does both here and in the future and wish her every success.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Tournament Director Salah Tahlak said: “Angelique Kerber is clearly a very special talent, having won Grand Slam titles at the Australian and US Opens and Wimbledon. She has also won titles on the WTA Tour on clay, which suggests that the French Open is also within her grasp. So too is the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where she has performed so well in the last two years. It will be very interesting to see how she does later this month.”

The three-time Grand Slam winner faces challenging opposition which includes eight further members of the world’s top 10, led by reigning US and Australian Open champion and world No.1 Naomi Osaka. Among others competing are two-time Wimbledon champion and 2019 Sydney winner Petra Kvitova, 2018 Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, reigning French Open champion Simona Halep, two-time Dubai champion Elina Svitolina, 2019 Brisbane winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova and former Grand Slam champions Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko.

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