9 of top-10 women to compete in DDF Tennis Championships
DUBAI 16 January 2019: The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships kicks off in fine style next month with a stunning line up which includes nine of the top 10 and 27 of the top 30 women, headed by world No. 1 and French Open champion Simona Halep and featuring all four reigning Grand Slam winners as well as two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina.
The mouth-watering field also includes three previous Grand Slam champions as well as headline grabbers such as Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, who recently partnered Roger Federer in the Hopman Cup where they triumphed for a second straight year.
French Open champion Halep will be especially interesting to follow as she attempts to play the first months of the season without a coach, after Darren Cahill stood down to spend more time with her family. She does though speak with him almost daily and he will no doubt still have a strong influence as she attempts to regain the Dubai title she claimed in 2015.
Angelique Kerber, who raced to the Wimbledon title in 2018 to add to the crowns she had previously won at the Australian and US Opens, is sure to be a strong contender again, after reaching the semi-finals in the last two years only to fall each time to eventual champion Elina Svitolina. She will be challenged by 2018 Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, who enjoyed another spell as world No. 1 last year to demonstrate that she is still as competitive as she was in claiming her Dubai title as long ago as 2011. And another strong contender is sensational US Open champion Naomi Osaka, who has risen to superstar status since reaching the quarter-finals in Dubai last year.
Like Kerber, Osaka’s run to the Dubai title was ended by Svitolina, whose win in 2018 saw her join an exclusive list of players who have won the Dubai title twice in a row. In the 19 year history of the event only two other players have defended their titles – Venus Williams, who won in 2009 and 2010, and Svitolina’s one time coach Justine Henin who retained her title twice. While Henin is still the most successful player in the event with a total of four titles to her name, Svitolina will return this year in a bid to become the first female player to win the coveted crown three years in a row.
As well as Svitolina, Halep and Wozniacki, another former champion who is certain to be a strong challenger to regain her title is 2013 winner and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who has climbed back into the top 10 following an horrific attack upon her by an intruder at her home which kept her out of the game for a long period. She won an astonishing five titles during the 2018 season and having just won the Sydney International would love nothing more than to continue her title gathering in Dubai.
Yet another strong contender will be 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova, who has already proved herself in Dubai by defeating Ana Ivanovic and Garbine Muguruza on her way to the 2015 final where she fell to top seeded Halep. And she has started the 2019 season in fantastic form, regaining the Brisbane title that she first claimed in 2017.
“We are once again thrilled to welcome almost every top player in the world to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where the challenge they face will be every bit as strong as they face at next week’s Australian Open,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.
“Having all but three of the top 30 players presents a wonderful opportunity for tennis fans in Dubai and throughout the Emirates to enjoy a gathering of top stars that is truly second to none, and we look forward to some fantastic contests.”
Among the many others who are certain to offer not only outstanding entertainment but a robust challenge is Kiki Bertens, who claimed three crowns last year as well as finishing as runner-up in two other events. Julia Goerges, who last week swept to the title in Auckland for the second straight year, will also clearly be a threat, and Ashleigh Barty is full of confidence after claiming a sensational straight-sets victory over Halep this week, before going down to Kvitova in a tough three setter in the Sydney International final.
Former French Open and Wimbledon champion and former world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza, 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, 2018 Dubai finalist Daria Kasatkina and Madison Keys, who contested the 2017 US Open final and was twice a Grand Slam semi-finalist in 2018 are just a few of the others who will be bidding for one of the most sought-after trophies in the sport when a thrilling two weeks of top class tennis gets underway.
The fantastic week of women’s tennis will be following by an equally thrilling men’s extravaganza that sees the return of former champion and Dubai crowd favourite Roger Federer.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships begins with the WTA event which takes place between 17th and 23rd February, and is followed by the ATP event between 25th February and 2nd March.