Will Simona Halep start another winning streak? How rare is a successful title defense in Dubai? And whose record is Teliana Periera after?
1) Dubai is a significant stop on the Road To Singapore.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is a Premier event and part one of the WTA’s fortnightly tour of the Middle East – part two is the Qatar Total Open. There’s over $2 million on the line, with the winner pocketing $465,480 and 470 points for the Road To Singapore leaderboard.
2) A strong line-up has made the trip to Dubai.
Even with a couple a high-profile withdrawals, four Top 10 players – and 10 of the Top 20 players in the world – are in Dubai, with the Top 8 seeds being Simona Halep, Garbiñe Muguruza, Carla Suárez Navarro, Petra Kvitova, Belinda Bencic, Karolina Pliskova, Roberta Vinci and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
3) Halep is looking to get back on track.
Defending champion Halep arrives in Dubai on the back of an indifferent start to 2016. After a surprise semifinal loss to Kuznetsova in Sydney, the Romanian suffered an even bigger shock at the Australian Open, crashing out to qualifier Zhang Shuai in the first round. She then split her two singles rubbers on Fed Cup duty against the Czech Republic, beating Kvitova but falling to Pliskova. Will she get back on track in Dubai?
4) Back-to-back titles no easy task.
Halep is looking to become just the third player to defend their title at Al Garhoud Street. The other two are Venus Williams (2009-10) and Justine Henin (2003-04, 2006-07).
5) If Kvitova clears early hurdles, watch out.
Kvitova has failed to win back-to-back matches here in four of her five appearances, in 2009 (to Julia Schruff), 2011 (to Ayumi Morita), 2014 (to Suárez Navarro) and 2015 (to Suárez Navarro). But in her only other try she went all the way to the title, in 2013 (beating Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic andAgnieszka Radwanska along the way).
6) Welcome to the club, Belinda.
By reaching the final last week in St. Petersburg, Belinda Bencic guaranteed herself a place inside the Top 10 for the first time in her career. Bencic is the 116th player to break into the elite bracket since computer rankings were introduced in 1975.
7) Halfway across the globe, the Latin American spring kicks off in Rio.
The Latin American leg of the tour kicks off this week with the Rio Open. Headlining the draw is home favorite and No.1 seed Teliana Pereira, who will be joined by Johanna Larsson, Danka Kovinic andChristina McHale.
8) Pereira hungry for WTA hat-trick.
Last April, Pereira became the first Brazilian in 27 years to win a WTA title when she triumphed at theClaro Open Colsanitas, in Bogotá. Eager to prove this was no flash in the pan, title number two soon followed at Florianopolis’ Brasil Tennis Cup. Will she score a hat-trick in Rio?
9) Hunting down Maria’s record.
No, not that Maria. In Bogotá, Pereira is the third Brazilian in the Open Era to win a WTA title, after Maria Bueno (who won three) and Neige Dias (two). A Brazilian winning in Brazil is even rarer, though. Pereira is just the second Brazilian in the Open Era to win a WTA title on home soil – Dias achieved the feat once, doing it over in Guaruja in 1987.
Source: WTA Tennis