DUBAI: Two great champions will be among those fighting for the coveted Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy next week, and with both in great form coming into the tournament the stage is set for an epic showdown if they meet in the final.
Will Victoria Azarenka be crowned queen, or can Serena Williams emulate her sister Venus and become a winner of one of the toughest tournaments outside of the Grand Slams.
Both players have asserted their dominance in Grand Slams, but neither has held the Dubai Duty Free trophy aloft so organisers are expecting a tough contest as they attempt to unseat reigning champion Agnieszka Radwanska and walk away with the title.
“We are looking forward to two tremendous finals this year, and with the world’s top two players in the both the men’s and women’s fields many are speculating on the possible winners. It will certainly be a gripping contest if Serena Williams meets the world number one Victoria Azarenka in the women’s final” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free. “But, with so many top players the outcome is never certain. We look forward to what will be a fascinating contest for the title.”
Serena, the reigning Wimbledon, Olympic and US Open champion, may be the favourite but Azarenka proved she will be tough to beat as she started the season with a run to the semi-finals in Brisbane and by retaining her Australian Open title with a hard-fought victory over Li Na. Her form in Dubai has, however, been patchy.
She made a sensational debut here in 2010, reaching the final before losing a closely contested final to Venus Williams. But in 2011 she lost in the third round. Last year her visit ended in frustration when she arrived in Dubai as the newly crowned world number one but with an ankle injury that failed to heal in time for her to compete.
Serena Williams has won almost everything there is to win in tennis, and this year she made an impression by winning in Brisbane and reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open before an injured ankle played a part in her loss to fellow American Sloane Stephens.