Defending champion Muguruza faces huge challenge at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

The players attend the draw for the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Saturday. — Supplied photo
The players attend the draw for the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Saturday. — Supplied photo

Dubai - The Spaniard goes up against Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in the first round

By Team KT

Published: Sat 12 Feb 2022, 4:54 PM

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza was handed a monumental first round challenge when the draw was conducted for the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday.

The world No.6, number four seed and two-time Grand Slam winner was drawn to face recent Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins to set up what is certain to be a mouth-watering encounter.

Collins is an exciting addition to the main draw. With so many top players entered this week, although she is now ranked 11, she originally faced having to qualify despite her Grand Slam status, as her ranking of 30 when entries to Dubai were finalised, left her just outside the cut-off point. But illness and injury to others allowed her to take her rightful place among the elite bidding for the title.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Danielle Collins to Dubai for the first time, after she thrilled us all with her magnificent run to the Australian Open final last month,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We could not have wished for a more exciting first round to enjoy, and it will be fascinating to see which player will advance to the next round.

“We welcome too so many of the world’s top 20 players, a number of whom are familiar faces who have already enjoyed great success in Dubai in previous seasons. We wish everyone well and look forward to the wonderful entertainment and drama that they are certain to provide.”

Another potential gigantic battle could feature top seed and world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka if she overcomes a first round qualifier, as she could then face two-time Grand Slam winner Petra Kvitova, although the 2013 Dubai champion must first get past the talented and dangerous Camila Giorgi. And even if she survives that challenge, 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and 2020 French Open winner Iga Swiatek are also in her quarter of the draw.

Second seed and 2021 Dubai finalist Barbora Krejcikova will have to work very hard indeed if she is to repeat her success of last year, with both two-time Dubai winner Elina Svitolina and 2021 French and US Open semifinalist Maria Sakkari in her quarter of the draw.

Third seed Paula Badosa is another who is destined for a difficult week as her quarter of the draw includes not only two-time Dubai champion Simona Halep but crowd favourite Ons Jabeur and the highly promising Cori Gauff.

Fifth seed Sakkari begins against a qualifier, sixth seeded Swiatek will not take her first round opponent, 2018 Dubai finalist Daria Kasatkina, lightly, while seventh seed Anett Kontaveit starts her bid for the title against the exciting Egyptian wild card Mayar Sherif, and eighth seeded Jabeur will play Russian veteran, former world No.2 and double Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva.

“There are so many outstanding matches to look forward to over the coming week, not only in the later rounds but from the very first day,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “There is no doubt that we will see a number of upsets as the week progresses, and it is with great anticipation that we wait to see who will be our champion this year.”

The two-week tennis extravaganza begins with the WTA event which takes place between Monday and Saturday, with play beginning at 12.30 pm on Monday and Tuesday and then from 2 pm on Wednesday to Friday. Evening sessions throughout the week begin at 7 pm, with the doubles final taking place at 5 pm on Saturday followed by the singles final not before 7 pm.

The tournament then continues between February 21 and 26 with the 30th anniversary of the ATP Tour 500 tournament when world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be bidding for his sixth Dubai title.

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.

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