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Dubai gears up to host Australian Open women qualifiers

Team KT/Dubai
Filed on January 9, 2021
Eugenie Bouchard hopes to qualify for Australian Open. — KT file

The pandemic has forced the tennis world to adapt to life

For the first time in Grand Slam history, the qualifying tournament will not be contested on Aussie soil, due to Australia’s quarantine restrictions resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Only qualified players and players eligible for a ‘Lucky Loser’ spot will travel to Melbourne for the main draw of the 2021 Australian Open.

The pandemic has forced the tennis world to adapt to life, the men will play at Doha’s Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Qatar, while the women head to Dubai.

UAE is one of the few countries in the world who have handled Covid-19 in a better way. Abu Dhabi recently hosted UFC events successfully and drew praise from fighters and organisers.

UAE also hosted the Indian Premier League successfully and other sports events are also in the pipeline. The successful hosting of big tournaments shows that the UAE is safe, with all the necessary Covid-19 precautions and protocols in place.

The Australian Open qualifying tournament will be staged on January 10-13, with the successful qualifiers from event securing their seat on a flight to Melbourne.

There they will feature in the main draw at Australian Open 2021 on February 8-21.

Eugenie Bouchard from Canada is the highest-profile player in the qualifying field. Bouchard took the tennis by storm as she rose to world No.5 but failed to live up to her potential. Bouchard hopes to qualify and do well in the Australian Open.

Tsvetana Pironkova will be another top player taking part in the qualifiers. After a three-year absence she made an impressive return to tennis in 2020 as she advanced to the quarterfinals of the US Open. Serena Williams needed three sets to end her inspiring run. The Belgian later reached the third round at Roland Garros. Pironkova, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2010, hopes to perform well in Australia.

Catherine McNally, a rising star, is one of the players competing in the qualifiers in Dubai. Her performance against Serena Williams in 2019 US Open drew attention. McNally qualified for Australian Open 2020 and ousted former world No.4 Sam Stosur in the first round. Her aggressive style, big serve and heavy groundstrokes have also translated well to doubles, as she has formed a productive partnership with Coco Gauff. Together the teenagers compatriots have clinched two WTA titles, both in 2019.

Players will need to win three ties to make it through the draw as one of the 16 qualifiers from each tournament. The winners will fly to Australia along with six alternates who will act as reserves for the main draw.

“We appreciate the assistance of our friends and colleagues in Dubai for hosting the Australian Open 2021 women’s qualifying event due to the current travel restrictions into Australia,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said recently.

liaqat@khaleejtimes.com





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