Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships draw: World No1 Swiatek and two-time champion Svitolina on collision course

Back-to-back Australian Open champion Sabalenka and US Open winner Coco Gauff are among line-up that includes 15 of the world’s top 20 female players

By Team KT

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Officials and players at the official draw for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. – Supplied photo
Officials and players at the official draw for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. – Supplied photo

Published: Sat 17 Feb 2024, 7:28 PM

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is set for a star-studded week of world-class action following the official 56-player draw for the WTA 1000 event, which is set to get underway tomorrow (Sunday) at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

The impressive women’s field for the Championships includes 15 of the world’s top 20 players and 10 Grand Slam winners boasting a collective 17 Grand Slam titles between them.

While the top eight seeds all received first-round byes, World No1 and top-seed Iga Swiatek, a four-time Grand Slam winner who reached the final in Dubai last year, is on course for a second-round meeting with 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens. The American faces one of eight qualifiers in the opening round before a potential match-up with two-time Dubai winner Elina Svitolina in the third round.

Poland's Iga Swiatek, the World No 1., was a finalist last year. - Reuters File
Poland's Iga Swiatek, the World No 1., was a finalist last year. - Reuters File

Swiatek’s half of the draw also features the likes of 2023 US Open champion Coco Gauff (No. 4 seed), World No. 6 Ons Jabeur (No6 seed), 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko (No.10 seed), and recent Australian Open finalist Qinwen Zheng.

Constant growth

“This year marks the 24th anniversary of the WTA tournament, which has constantly grown, even more significantly in the past 12 months as our competition was recently awarded permanent WTA 1000 status from this year onwards,” Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said.

“It’s fantastic to see so many of the world’s top players here again – 15 of the world’s top 20 is a testament to the esteem our event continues to enjoy on the WTA Tour.”

On the opposite side of the draw, back-to-back Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka (No. 2 seed) is on course to meet World No. 8 and reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova (No. 7 seed) in the quarterfinals.

Back-to-back Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka. - Instagram
Back-to-back Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka. - Instagram

Elena Rybakina, the 2022 Wimbledon winner (No. 3 seed), World No. 9 Maria Sakkari, and Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion are among those that will stand in her way as she vies to progress past the quarterfinals in Dubai for the first time.

The Official Draw was attended by Arab superstar Jabeur, 2017 and 2018 Dubai winner Svitolina, and World No. 27 Donna Vekic.

Jabeur is relishing making her ninth appearance in Dubai after injury prevented the current Tunisian No. 1 from participating in last year’s event.

Always amazing

“It’s always amazing to come here,” said Jabeur, who reached the final of both the French Open and Wimbledon last year. “Dubai is my home so I’m excited to start the season very well here.

“The most important thing is of course to be healthy, so I want to win more matches and achieve more. I’m very fortunate to play here in Dubai and so many tournaments in other Arab countries and it has really helped me become the player I am today.

“It is my dream to see more women from this region play tennis and reach a high level.”, she added.

Svitolina, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year just nine months after giving birth to a daughter, added: “I missed last year, but always have great memories here on centre court: Winning my first big tournament here, entering the top 10 for the first time, so this tournament holds a very special place in my heart… My daughter is now watching the matches, so I have to win for her.”

Vekic, who has played in Dubai only once, is hoping to better her previous performance here.

Great to be in Dubai

“I’ve played only once here and lost to Ons in the first round, so it wasn’t a very memorable tournament for me, but it’s always great to be in Dubai and I look forward to improving on last time,” said the Croatian.

The Official Draw was hosted by WTA Supervisor Donna Kelso, who was joined by McLoughlin, Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer, Dubai Duty Free and Chairman of the Tournament Organising Committee; Salah Tahlak, Joint-COO of Dubai Duty Free and Tournament Director of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Nasser Yousef Al-Marzouqi, Secretary General of the UAE Tennis Federation, Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Dubai Duty Free; and WTA referee Sheetal Iyer.

The 24th edition of the annual WTA event takes place one week before the men’s event at the same venue.

The women’s competition will run between February 18 and 24, before the 32nd staging of the ATP Tour 500 tournament from February 26 to March 2.

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

Tickets for both the women’s WTA tournament and the men’s ATP event remain available to purchase at

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