The tour heads to the Middle East next week for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the first of two big events in the region.
The Middle East swing gets underway next week at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, a WTA 500 event with a loaded field that features eight of the Top 10 women.
Here’s what you need to know about the 22nd edition of the event.
When does the tournament start?
Main draw play begins on Monday, Feb. 14. Play will begin at 12:30 pm on Monday and Tuesday, before shifting to a 2:00 pm start from Wednesday through the semifinals on Friday.
Dubai features a 32-player singles field and 16 team doubles field. The tournament is played on an outdoor hardcourt at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium. The tournament will use the Wilson US Open Regular Duty balls.
The Qatar TotalEnergies Open and Dubai Duty Free Championships alternate between WTA 1000 and WTA 500 levels each year. With Dubai holding the WTA 1000 designation last season, this year it is a WTA 500.
When are the finals?
Dubai will feature a Saturday final. The doubles final will take place on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 5:00 pm. The singles final will follow at 7:00 pm.
Who are the top seeds?
This year’s field features eight of the Top 10, with only No.1 Ashleigh Barty and No.4 Karolina Pliskova absent.
Projected Top Eight Seeds:
1. Aryna Sabalenka
2. Barbora Krejcikova
3. Paula Badosa
4. Garbiñe Muguruza
5. Maria Sakkari
6. Iga Swiatek
7. Anett Kontaveit
8. Ons Jabeur
Who are the defending champions?
Garbiñe Muguruza won her first of three 2021 titles in Dubai, defeating Barbora Krejcikova, 7-6(6), 6-3 in the final. The title was Muguruza’s first in nearly two years. Krejcikova was ranked No.63 at the time; flash forward 12 months and Krejcikova is a major champion and the No.2 seed.
In the doubles, Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac won their first team title, defeating Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan, 6-0, 6-3.
What does the draw look like?
The draw ceremony will take place on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 12:00 pm local time. For the full qualifying draw, which includes Clara Tauson, Amanda Anisimova, and Marta Kostyuk, click here.
What is the prize money and ranking points on offer?
First Round: $6,200/1 point
Second Round: $9,500/55 points
Quarterfinals: $18,500/100 points
Semifinals: $39,000/185 points
Final: $66,800/305 points
Champion: $108,000/470 points
Collins and Swiatek back in action: Two of Melbourne’s final four are back at it this week, with Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins making her Dubai main draw debut and semifinalist Swiatek returning for a second appearance, having made the Round of 16 last season. Australian Open champion Barty has opted to skip the Middle East swing and will return to competition at Indian Wells in March. Semifinalist Madison Keys will return in Guadalajara and Monterrey before Indian Wells.
Quick turnarounds for St. Petersburg semifinalists: Sakkari, Kontaveit, and Jelena Ostapenko are in Saturday’s semifinals in Russia and will not have byes into the second round in Dubai. Sakkari is still seeking her first main draw win in Dubai (0-2). In contrast, Kontaveit has made the Round of 16 or better in three of her four appearances, including a quarterfinal in 2020. Ostapenko, who was a champion in Doha in 2016, is 1-4 in Dubai.
Gauff eyes continued Dubai success: In her tournament debut last year, the 17-year-old American continued her strong start to the season with a run to her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal. Gauff took a tough first-round loss in Melbourne, but she played well outside of that in January. She had Barty on the ropes in Adelaide and played a strong three-set match against Madison Keys in the Adelaide 250 semifinals.
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