WTA: Dubai Duty Free Championship Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

We preview the Dubai Duty Free Championship which is set to be played between 19 Monday 19 February and Sunday 25 February. 

Swinging from Doha to Dubai, the Aviation Club Tennis Centre in Dubai will play host to the 18th incarnation of this event. The event has been somewhat rocked by a series of late withdrawals- a consequence a hectic schedule that has seen Fed Cup action amidst the tumult of Melbourne and regular tour activity. Simona Halep withdrew this week, joining Madison Keys and Julia Goerges on the side-lines. 

The languid presence of Maria Sharapova will also be absent, taking away some of the razzmatazz this week. That being said, six of the world’s top 10 players are present, including defending champion Elina Svitolina. The top four seeded players will receive a bye in a singles draw of 28 players.

Past Winners
2017: Elina Svitolina
2016: Sara Errans
2015: Simona Halep
2014: Venus Williams
2013: Petra Kvitova


First Quarter- Seeded Players- Elina Svitolina (1), Kristina Mladenovic (8)
Elina Svitolina hasn’t quite hit her straps this season and will lead a tricky quarter this week- especially with the resurgent Petra Kvitova unseeded this week. After her bye she will likely have a tricky opener against Kiki Bertens, while former champion Kvitova and Mladenovic lurk in the lower half of the quarter. Kvitova’s victories in St Petersburg and Qatar must have come at some physical cost however, so it will be intriguing to see if we witness any signs of fatigue this week. That may give Svitolina the edge in this quarter: Player to progress- Elina Svitolina. 

Second Quarter- Seeded Players- Karolina Pliskova (3), Angelique Kerber (6)
This perhaps looks like one of the more straightforward quarters, with Plisikova and Kerber clear favourites to progress to a quarter-final clash. Plisikova will likely play veteran Suarez-Navarro in her first match while Kerber has the slightly trickier task of playing Barbora Strycova. It will likely come down to a Pliskova-Kerber showdown, and the German leads the head-to-head 6-3, winning their last two matches. She seems to be in superior form to the Czech at present. Player to progress- Angelique Kerber. 

Third Quarter- Seeded Players- Johanna Konta (7), Jelena Ostapenko (5)
Johanna Konta showed signs in Qatar of a return to form but has largely disappointed this season thus far. Ostapenko has similarly struggled to validate her oft high seeding, as she struggles to validate herself following last year’s shock French Open victory. This quarter is certainly rife for surprises with the two least intimidating seeds occupying one quarter. Former World Number 2 Radwanksa was close to taking down eventual champion Kvitova in Qatar and could capitalize on a weak section this week. Player to progress- Agnieszka Radwankska. 

Fourth Quarter- Seeded Players- Garbine Muguruza (2), Caroline Garcia (8)
Losing Qatar finalist Muguruza will be buoyed by a performance in Doha that certainly defied most expectations. She will be doubly buoyed by the fact that one of her vanquished foes from Doha- Caroline Garcia- is the other seeded player in her section. Murguruza will have a tough first match regardless, with ebullient Catherine Bellis or Aussie Open semi-finalist Elise Mertens up first. Elsewhere, Garcia has former Grand Slam finalist Lucie Safarova to overcome in the first round. Player to progress- Garbine Muguruza. 

Pick of First Round Matches- Upset Watch

Petra Kvitova (7/20) vs Anett Kontaveit (19/10)
For value’s sake, the relatively in-form Kontaveit could be a decent bet here, with Kvitova coming off of back-to-back tournament victories, meaning exhaustion could become a factor. 

Johanna Konta (4/10) vs Anastastia Pavylyuchenkova (18/10)
Based purely on how poor the British player has been, 18/10 doesn’t look too bad for Pavylyuchenkova this week. Konta continues to battle fitness and form and is quite fortunate- in my estimation- to be amongst the seeded players this week. 

Caroline Garcia (11/20) vs Lucie Safarova (13/10)
Frenchwoman Garcia looked much improved in Qatar before going down to Murguruza, but Safarova has also been in a state of incremental improvement and could be worth a bet at 13/10.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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