Dubai 2021: Top seed Elena Svitolina goes for third title, but former champ Kvitova eyes rare Doha/Dubai double
Top seed Elena Svitolina is eyeing a third title at the Dubai Duty Free Championships
The Dubai Duty Free Championships has long been one of the highest quality WTA events on the tour, and this year, under its new WTA1000 banner, the 21st playing of the event is no exception.
And although the defending champion, Simona Halep, was forced to withdraw with a back injury, and world No1 Ashleigh Barty is absent with a leg problem, there is again much to relish in this 56-woman line-up.
Eleven of the top 20 are in the field, headed by two-time champion Elina Svitolina. Fellow former champions including Belinda Bencic and Petra Kvitova, who is hot off a title run in Doha, where she won her first title in almost two years. Only two women before have won the Doha/Dubai double, Martina Hingis and Justine Henin, but Kvitova will hope to become the third after her dazzling performance over Garbine Muguruza in the Doha final.
The Spanish No9 seed is among several Major champions in Dubai. Muguruza leads the tour in match-wins in 2021, with a 12-4 record, and is the season leader in finals reached, but she is bidding to win her first title since Monterrey in 2019 and her biggest since 2017 Cincinnati.
Another Major champion is Iga Swiatek, making her Dubai debut. The Pole is just 19 years old, and currently ranked at a career-high No15. However the youngest in the draw is Coco Gauff, only 16 years old, also at a career high of 38, and already into the second round with an impressive three-set marathon win over Ekaterina Alexandrova. The young American turns 17 on Saturday, the day of the Dubai final.
Swiatek, who won her first WTA500 title two weeks ago at the Adelaide International, could meet Muguruza in a notable third-round contest.
As for Svitolina, her bid begins against another former Major champion, and three-time Dubai finalist, Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Jelena Ostapenko could meet Svitolina in the third round.
However, Angelique Kerber’s time in the Middle East ended with just one win, in the first round of Doha. She lost to Caroline Garcia in her opener in Dubai.
Key second round matches on Tuesday include No2 seed Karolina Pliskova, who opens her account against Anastasija Sevastova, and No3 Aryna Sabalenka, who won three titles back to back coming into 2021, including the Abu Dhabi 500—she meets Alize Cornet.
Also in a packed schedule are Svitolina against Kuznetsova, plus Bencic, Swiatek, Kvitova, Ostapenko, and Madison Keys.