Join Date: Nov 2001
Williams sisters set to dazzle Dubai
By Ahmed Abbas Rizvi
28 February 2005
DUBAI — The Williams sisters have been rarely seen at the same tournaments on the tour — other than Grand Slams and Tier 1 events.
But the Dubai Tennis Championships, owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, has a reputation unparalleled. And so, after enticing Andre Agassi to make his first appearance, they have managed to lure Serena Williams and World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport for the fifth edition of the $585,000 Dubai Tennis Championships Women’s Open, a Tier II WTA event. Their appearance in Dubai only confirms the popularity of the Championships.
The Dubai Women’s Open has managed an array of stars that is hard to find anywhere in the world outside of the four Grand Slams.
“We have six of the Top 10 players in the world, 12 of the Top 20 in the world, we have the world’s number one and we have between our players the winners of 17 Grand Slams,” announced a proud Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free.
“I think that speaks for itself. We are going to have a fantastic tournament.”
While Davenport is the top seed, Serena is the second seed and is in the tougher bottom half of the draw, along with her sister Venus.
And like Agassi-Roger Federer in the Men’s Open, the women’s semifinal has the appetising prospect of a rare semifinal between the Williams sisters. And we could see a repeat of the Australian Open final if Davenport and Serena safely negotiate through one of the strongest fields ever assembled for the Dubai Women’s Open.
It won’t be easy for Americans though.
Among those the competing for the title will be Venus Williams, Russian superstars Anastasia Myskina and Svetlana Kuznetsova, and one of the fastest rising stars on the tour, Australian Open quarter-finalist Alicia Molik, who reached the finals in Doha last week.
Kuznetsova, the US Open champion, and Myskina, the French Open champ, have yet to win the Dubai event. But last year Kuznetsova came close, beating Venus Williams before conceding the final to Justine Henin-Hardenne, who celebrated her second consecutive Dubai title.
Myskina reached the quarter-finals before coming up against a red-hot Meghann Shaughnessy.
Serena, who ended two years in the tennis elite wilderness by winning the Australian Open and now sits at No. 2 in the world, is making her first trip to Dubai. Reports of the warm Dubai hospitality and the unique world-class tennis stadium from sister Venus, encouraged her to make the trip.
And like Agassi in the men’s draw, first-time visitor Serena are sure to keep the turnstiles buzzing.
The opening day of the event will see the hard-hitting fifth seed Venus, who has played in Dubai twice previously including last year when she was knocked out in the quarter-finals, taking on Silvia Farina Elia of the Italy, the World No.22.
Also on view today will be Indian sensation, Sania Mirza — one of the three wild cards along with veteran Conchita Martinez of Spain and Tunisia’s Sfar. Selima. The 18-year-old opens her campaign against World No.36 Jelena Kostanic of Croatia. And if she wins that, she runs into US Open champion Kuznetsova in the second round.
Martinez and eight seed Patty Schnyder will also be in action on the opening.
But those hoping to feast their eyes on top seed Davenport, second seed Serena, third Myskina and fourth seed Kuznetsova, however, will have to wait till the second round as the top four have earned a first-round bye in the 28-player event, which will be looking for a new champion as two-time winner Justine Henin-Hardenne is not here to defend her title because of injury.
Farina shocks Venus
By Edwin Ashie-Nikoi
1 March 2005
DUBAI — Indian teenager, Sania Mirza, put up an incredible display to oust Jelena Kostanic of Croatia 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round match of the women’s DDF-sponsored Dubai Open Tennis Tournament at the Dubai Tennis Stadium here yesterday.
Silvia Farina Elia of Italy pulled off a stunning win over fifth seed Venus Williams of the US in their first round encounter last night.
The 33-year-old ranked 22nd in the world took the firs set 7-5 as Williams struggled. The American then took a medical break before the start of the second set to have treatment on her hand, which was then bandaged.
Williams, who appeared tired during the match, could not handle her fitter opponent’s approach. She slightly found her old form only in the second with some fine passing shots as she fought back from 2-4 down to take the lead 6-5.
Elia, however, kept the same pace to tie 6-6 and went on to win the tiebreak 8-6 and the match 7-6.
Sania, the 18-year-old wild card gave her more experienced opponent, ranked 36th in the world, a lot of problems with her powerful forehand drives. Sania’s double-fisted backhand shots were also deadly accounting for some of her points. Sania, who won her first WTA title recently in her home city of Hyderabad, received an equally strong support from the Indian community here, which in no small way inspired her to victory. She gratefully acknowledged the support given her saying: “This is my second home.”
Despite Sania’s incredible victory, she kept her fans sometimes on the edge with some erratic play, raising eyebrows if she could make it. Her inconsistency came to the fore in the first set where she let a 4-1 lead slip for Kostanic to come into the match to level 4-4. The Croat went on to take the set 7-6 in 49 minutes after winning the tiebreak 7-2.
The second set was very close with Kostanic taking the first game after she broke the Indian teenager. But Sania responded in the same vein though she let a 40-15 slip before winning on a second deuce to level 1-1.
Both players held their serves in the next two games to be on level 2-2 but Kostanic again broke Sania in the fifth for a 3-2 lead. Sania had a great chance in that game to have taken it after she virtually dominated for a 40-0 lead following some superb serves. But she again faltered for Kostanic to force deuce and went on to win the game for the advantage.
Kostanic, who was serving in the sixth game, double faulted and a superb return by Sania gave her a 30-0. Though Kostanic tried to save the game, Sania held firmly to draw level 3-3. The two players held their grounds till Sania went in front 5-4 in the ninth game despite Kostanic forcing deuce.
The Indian teenager was greatly inspired in the tenth game as she came up with some spectacular passing shots which caught her opponent flat-footed most of the time. She kept the same form and without allowing Kostanic to win any point, closed the game with a long groundstroke to the left of her opponent to level 1-1.
Sania was completely transformed in the deciding set with an astonishing display. Despite some resistance from the Croat, she soon breezed into a 4-0 lead. But she had to fight back in that game from 0-40 to force deuce and go on to break Kostanic.
After winning the fifth game Kostanic took the next to cut down the scores 5-1. But Sania was not to be denied as she hit back in style to win the seventh game without Kostanic taking a point to wrap up the match in 1hr 58mins.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Conchita Martinez, the oldest player in the championship at 32 years, defeated Shinobu Asagoe of Japan 6-3, 6-4. But the Spaniard was stretched in both sets with some fine performance from the Japanese.
Asagoe appeared to be in control in the opening set but the much-travelled Spaniard soon seized control to take the first set. The Japanese started the second set in the same vein as she led twice before Martinez again took over to race to victory.
In other matches of the day, Chinese pair Jie Zheng and Na Li caused a big sensation by clinching berths in the second round. Jie upset Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 while Li beat Cara Black of Zimbabwe 6-2, 6-7, 6-3. Jelena Jankovic of Serbia defeated Paola Suarez of Argentina 6-3, 6-1; Marion Bartoli of France beat Galina Voskoboeva or Russia 6-1, 7-5.