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07 December 2023

Dubai Tennis Championships: Venus Williams begins title defence in style

Venus Williams of the USA in action in her match against Belinda Bencic of Switzerland during day two of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship at the Dubai Duty Free Stadium on February 16, 2015 in Dubai, UAE. (Getty)

By Staff

Venus Williams began the defence of her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title on Monday with a dominating performance that earned her a 6-1 6-2 victory over Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic.

She is now undefeated in her last 16 matches in Dubai, extending a run that has seen her win the title three times, in 2009, 2010 and 2014.

Her powerful serve and aggressive baseline play always gave her the advantage over her young opponent, and she wavered only briefly as Bencic took a 2-0 lead in the second set.

Daniela Hantuchova followed up her Sunday tournament victory in Pattaya with a battling 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3 victory over Mona Barthel.

It was a remarkable performance from a player who landed in Dubai at 5.30am after a seven-hour flight, direct from winning a late Sunday afternoon final.

She showed little sign of fatigue after just one hour of sleep as she dealt with a talented and persistent opponent, and showed greater aggression than Barthel to secure a second round clash with world number three Simona Halep.

Eleventh seed Lucie Safarova enjoyed a comfortable victory over Monica Puig, winning 6-1 6-4, number 16 seed Shuai Peng beat Elena Vesnina 7-5 6-1 and 17th seed Karolina Pliskova eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-4

Turkish wild card Cagla Buyukakcay battled her way to an impressive 6-2 6-7(7) 6-4 win over Gabriela Dabrowski to earn a second round meeting with 2014 Dubai finalist Alize Cornet.

She came within two points of winning the two hour 23-minute contest in straight sets after breaking to lead 6-5, and then in the tiebreak she came within two points of a win no less than three more times before being taken to a decider.

She then showed great resilience by recovering from 3-0 and two breaks down in the third set, winning six of the last seven games.

“Venus Williams is one of the most successful players to have competed at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and she is now bidding to equal Justine Henin's record of winning the title four times,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers.

A fantastic feast of tennis awaits on Tuesday, with even top players available to watch for free.

“Tuesday sees our top seeds taking to the courts for the first time this week, with fans having the chance to see no fewer than three former Dubai champions, including the reigning Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova,” said tournament director Salah Tahlak.

“The French Open finalist Simona Halep is competing, as well as recent Brisbane runner-up Ana Ivanovic. Australian Open semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova, former world number one Jelena Jankovic and former French and US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova are all free to watch on outside courts.”

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA event continues until February 21. Play then continues between February 23 and 28 with the action-packed ATP tournament which stars world number one and Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, defending Dubai champion Roger Federer, Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray and two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Tickets for the event are available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily.