Tough draw for top seed in Dubai Tennis Championships

George Horan, President Dubai Duty Free; Alize Cornet (2014 finalist); Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director; Agnieszka Radwanska (2012 champion); Venus Williams (Defending champion); Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman, Dubai Duty Free; Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Vice-President, Tennis Emirates; Donna Kelso , WTA Tour Supervisor; Sinead El Sibai, Vice-President –Marketing, Dubai Duty Free; with Dubai Duty Free hostesses at the draw. (Supplied)

Top seed Simona Halep could face a tough quarter-final challenge at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after the draw was made Saturday.

The world number three, who reached her first Grand Slam final last year in Paris, finished as runner-up at the prestigious WTA Finals in Singapore and last month won the Shenzhen title, could meet Australian Open semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova or the newest member of the top 10, Andrea Petkovic, who are scheduled to clash in the third round.

Another mouth-watering quarter-final battle between two former Dubai champions is on the cards if second seed Petra Kvitova and fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska can come through their early challenges.

The top eight seeds receive a bye into the second round, when Halep will face former top five star Daniela Hantuchova or Mona Barthel.

Kvitova opens against rising star Elina Svitolina or emerging American CoCo Vandeweghe.

Third seeded Caroline Wozniacki will face a qualifier or former US Open champion Samantha Stosur, and fourth seed Ana Ivanovic takes on former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki or Monica Niculescu.

Agnieszka Radwanska will play either a qualifier or Caroline Garcia in her opening match, and sixth seeded Makarova also faces a qualifier or recent Hobart winner Heather Watson.

Angelique Kerber is seeded seven and she faces a tough second round against either former two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova or former Dubai semi-finalist Kaia Kanepi, and eighth seed and defending champion Venus Williams will play rising Swiss star Belinda Bencic or Karin Knapp.

“It is disappointing that Serena Williams has had to withdraw as she has been unable to recover from the illness that clearly affected her at the Australian Open, and that Eugenie Bouchard has had to postpone her debut here due to an arm injury, but once again we are delighted to still be able to welcome to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships many of the very best players in the world,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers.

“Venus Williams thrilled us all in 2014 when she claimed her third title here, and since then she has gone from strength to strength. Just last month she enjoyed her best result at a Grand Slam in five years when she reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and she is now at her highest ranking in nearly four years, and it would be no surprise at all if she can repeat what she did in 2010 and successfully defend her title.”

Williams faces a daunting challenge as she bids for an incredible 47th career title, with many opponents who have excelled both in Dubai and on other big stages around the world.

“Although Venus Williams is in tremendous form, having already won a title this year in Auckland, she will have to compete at the very highest level if she is to overcome one of the strongest fields to gather outside of the Grand Slams,” said tournament director Salah Tahlak.

“We have many fantastic matches in prospect, especially a possible quarter-final clash between former Dubai champions Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska. Another intriguing match we can look forward to is a possible meeting between 2014 runner-up Alize Cornet and 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki.”

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.

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