Mauresmo faces tough battle to retain Dubai title
Dubai, February 16
Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo faces a tough battle as she seeks to defend her title at the Dubai Tennis Championships starting here Tuesday, despite the late withdrawal of world number two Venus Williams.
Williams, who has been playing just her second tournament of the year in Belgium this week, informed the tournament organisers that she had decided to reassess her schedule.
Mauresmo, who defeated compatriot Sandrine Testud of France to claim the title a year ago, is seeded second behind Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne.
But the field in the 585,000-dollar event also includes former world number one Jennifer Capriati and recent Tokyo runner-up Monica Seles.
The top four seeds have a bye into the second round, and Henin-Hardenne will then face either Elena Likhovtseva or a qualifier.
Mauresmo will also play a qualifier, or Zimbabwe's Cara Black. Third seed Capriati will tackle either 2001 ITF world junior champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is also playing doubles with Martina Navratilova, or former French Open champion Iva Majoli. Fourth seeded Seles will play Tatiana Panova or Francesca Schiavone.
Henin-Hardenne and Capriati are destined to clash in the semi-finals, and Mauresmo should face nine-time Grand Slam champion Seles.
But their path could be blocked by emerging stars Anastasia Myskina of Russia and eighth seeded Eleni Daniilidou of Greece.
Myskina, seeded five, recently reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, and Daniilidou began the year by lifting the Auckland title as well as contesting the final of the Australian Open mixed doubles with Todd Woodbridge.
The field is rounded out by sixth seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland and Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva, seeded seven.