Fiery Venus has Dubai title in her sights
Venus Williams has vowed to make up for her shock defeat at last year's Dubai Duty Free Women's Open by sweeping all before her when the tournament launches the Dubai Tennis Championships fortnight next week.
Williams lost in the semi-final to Sandrine Testud in one of the surprise results of the year, but she is close to being back to her best as the world's leading players from the WTA Tour make their final travel plans for Dubai.
Fresh from her appearance in the Australian Open final, Williams has taken the game to a new level in recent years, and it will take someone playing at the very top of their game to prevent the world number two succeeding in her quest to add the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open trophy to her cabinet.
Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free, said: "Venus is coming back here to prove a point. She was bitterly disappointed to lose last year and is determined to put things right this time around. It won't be easy for her though as this year's tournament has attracted the most competitive field to date."
Among those standing in her way when the $585,000 WTA Tour event gets underway at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on 17th February will be Australian Open semi-finalist Justine Henin-Hardenne, nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles, Australian and French Open winner Jennifer Capriati, defending champion Amelie Mauresmo and rising stars Eleni Daniilidou and Anastasia Myskina.
Williams's Dubai glory bid last year was hampered by a slight injury as she fell to Testud. However, if an injury does not give you a chance against her, Jelena Dokic believes you just have to hope Venus is not in top form when you face her.
"It's hard to play against her because of the power and the speed that she has," said the young Yugoslav. "You've just got to try and get the ball back and maybe mix it up a little bit more and see what happens. You have to hope she has a bad day and that you play well. If she's on she's really hard to beat."
The confidence of knowing that she is such an intimidating figure will only add to Venus' chance of leaving Dubai as champion.
The Dubai Duty Free Women's Open is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence, UAE. Held between 17th and 22nd February, the women's event is followed by the Dubai Duty Free Men's Open from 24th February to 2nd March.