The world number two Aryna Sabalenka looks to add the Dubai Open title after winning in Doha and Abu Dhabi events last year.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Top seed and world number two Aryna Sabalenka is hoping to claim a unique Middle East treble when she bids for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title next week.
Two of her 10 WTA singles titles have come in the region, as she won Doha in 2020 and last year added Abu Dhabi to her growing list of tournament triumphs.
“Aryna Sabalenka clearly loves playing in the Middle East and we look forward to seeing if she can be as successful in Dubai as she has been elsewhere,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.
“In the past two seasons she has reached the quarter-finals here, only then to fall to the eventual champion. We are delighted to welcome her back as our number one seed and wish her every success.”
After failing to overcome Garbine Muguruza in the Dubai quarter-finals last year, she advanced to a further quarter-final in Miami where she stretched world number one Ashleigh Barty to three sets. She then moved onto the clay courts in Stuttgart where she defeated two-time Dubai winner Simona Halep to reach the final, only to fall again to Barty in three sets.
The pair then met yet again, for the third time in three tournaments, and this time in the Madrid final Sabalenka emerged as the winner.
A switch to grass brought more success, as Sabalenka reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time at Wimbledon, where Karolina Pliskova eventually ended her run in a thrilling three-setter. Then, during the North America hard court season, she reached the semi-finals in Montreal and then in New York her second successive Grand Slam semi-final, where teenage sensation Leylah Fernandez edged through.
She was then unable to play at Indian Wells due to testing positive for Covid-19, failed to enjoy similar success during the remainder of her season, and has struggled to regain her momentum so far in 2022.
“It is a great pleasure to welcome Aryna Sabalenka back to Dubai as our number one seed,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “She has proved that she can overcome the very best on so many occasions, and we very much look forward to seeing how she competes here once again against such a strong field.”
The tournament begins with the WTA event which takes place between February 14 to February 19 and features eight of the world’s top 10 players.
The tournament then continues between February 21-26 with the 30th anniversary of the ATP Tour 500 tournament when world number one Novak Djokovic will be bidding for his sixth Dubai title.