Ukrainian Snigur happy with underdog tag at Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge

The 2021 champion wants to take things one step at a time in Dubai

By Team KT

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Former champion Daria Snigur loves the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge. - Supplied photo
Former champion Daria Snigur loves the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge. - Supplied photo

Published: Sat 2 Dec 2023, 6:35 PM

Former champion Daria Snigur is reluctant to put herself under any sort of pressure as she targets a second crown in Dubai as the 26th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge got underway at the Habtoor Grand on Saturday.

Snigur rocketed 39 places to a career-high No. 144 in the WTA rankings after collecting her biggest title yet on the ITF World Tennis Tour at the W100+H Dubai at the end of 2021.

A losing finalist at the tournament in 2019, the Ukrainian battled through three-set matches against Xinyu Wang, Viktoria Kuzmova and Anastasia Gasanova before brushing aside Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova 6-3, 6-0 to claim the sixth ITF singles crown of her fledgling career.

“It was different last year as there was too much pressure on me going into the competition as the defending champion and all that. But this year, I am here as someone who wants to just play good tennis,” Snigur said after a one-hour practice session on the court at the Habtoor Grand.

“This is such a lovely tournament for me as I won here two years ago, and that gave me that confidence and belief to go ahead in my career as a tennis player. I now find myself as someone who is capable of doing much better on the WTA Tour.”

Snigur, the 2019 girls' singles champion at Wimbledon and a former world No. 2 has made huge steps following her first-round loss in Dubai exactly one year back. Now 21, she has taken a winning path with her first huge win coming up against former world No. 1 Simona Halep at the 2022 US Open.

Till then, Snigur had never played a Grand Slam main draw, never won a Tour-level WTA match and never faced, let alone defeated, a top-20 player. “This is a great tournament for me personally. It is like I feed off my win in Dubai and come up with some strong performances,” Snigur said.

“This time I have no expectations or goals for myself. With no pressure on me, I just want to go out there and play the best I can and the results will follow automatically.

“At the moment I am just focused on my game. I will have a look at the schedule of play and then I can decide how exactly I want to pursue my goals in Dubai this year,” she added.

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First held in 1998, the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge is the brainchild of Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Founding Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group. The annual tournament has lived up to its mission of encouraging the development of women’s tennis in the UAE and the region. It also helps raise the profile of the sport while being the oldest women’s professional tournament in the region.

The main rounds will commence on Monday.


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