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10 Things: Doha & Acapulco

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Every week wtatennis.com brings you 10 Things To Know about the week – who is playing, where and much more. This week the Road To Singapore goes through Doha and Acapulco…

1) Doha is the first Premier 5 tournament of 2016.
The Qatar Total Open is a Premier 5 event and part two of the WTA’s fortnightly tour of the Middle East – part one is the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. There’s nearly $3 million on the line, with the winner pocketing $518,500 and a whopping 900 points for the Road To Singapore leaderboard.

Click here for a full analysis of the Doha draw.

2) World No.2 Angelique Kerber plays her first tournament since winning the Australian Open.
Kerber played a solid weekend in Fed Cup – going 1-1 in her singles matches against Timea Bacsinszky and Belinda Bencic – but the German comes to Doha  looking to build on her early season momentum; she remains the only player to reach more than one final in 2016. It won’t be easy for the 2014 finalist with her fellow Top 8 seeds in tow: Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, Garbiñe Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Bencic, Lucie Safarova, and Carla Suárez Navarro.

3) Agnieszka Radwanska is also hoping to build on her strong start to the season.
Out since the Australian Open with a left leg injury, the reigning BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global champion was undefeated through the semifinals in Melbourne, having won the title at the Shenzhen Open. Though she fell to World No.1 Serena Williams in her last match, the Pole has otherwise looked good since last year’s US Open, and is poised to rise to World No.3 on Monday.

4) Defending champion Lucie Safarova makes her 2016 debut.
Safarova’s stellar 2015 season started off last year in Doha. The Czech earned back-to-back Top 10 wins and beat former No.1 Victoria Azarenka in the final, parlaying that result into a maiden Grand Slam final at the French Open. A bacterial infection derailed her season after the US Open, and though she qualified for Singapore, Safarova hasn’t played since, but with several weeks of practice in Doha, look for the defending champ to make some noise with her big lefty game. 

5) Can Halep, Muguruza or Kvitova kickstart their years in Doha?
No.2 seed Halep has been looking for matches all season, but they were hard to come by in Dubai; the Romanian had to face former No.1 Ana Ivanovic in her opening round match, losing in straight sets. Muguruza has been dealing with a foot injury that has kept her from feeling prepared to play her best tennis, while Kvitova has won just one match all season and has yet to name a replacement coach since splitting the David Kotyza. All three have the talent to win in Doha; can one or more catch fire this week?

6) Azarenka does Acapulco.
While most of the game’s biggest names are duking it out in Doha, Victoria Azarenka has opted to ease into her North American hardcourt swing by playing her first tournament since the Australian Open at this week’s International event at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel. Top seed in Acapulco, Azarenka is joined by tricky opposition in Sloane Stephens, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Dominika Cibulkova.

7) Can Konta go further?
Johanna Konta rocked the tennis world when she made her historic run to the semifinals in Melbourne. A likely seed in Acapulco, how will the Brit back up that result as she aims to continue her march up the rankings; she is currently at a career-high ranking of No.27.

8) How will Sloane Stephens rebound?
Stephens came to Melbourne looking like a dangerous floater having won her second career title at the ASB Classic, but took a surprising first round loss to Wang Qiang. How will the American fare in her first event since then?

9) Welcome back, Galina.
Former World No.42 and No.1 Kazakh Galina Voskoboeva was close to a career-high ranking when multiple foot injuries kept her off the court for nearly two years. Playing her first matches earlier this month at Fed Cup and an ITF Challenger, Voskoboeva makes her WTA return in doubles this week with Anastasia Rodionova. Stay tuned for more insight into Voskoboeva’s comeback on WTA Insider.

10) Find out where you can watch live action this week.

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Radwanska Meets The Press

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

DOHA, Qatar – On Monday, Agnieszka Radwanska met the press ahead of the Premier 5 level event in Doha, the Qatar Total Open, and she discussed everything from her strong start to the season, her Fed Cup plans and the next generation of tennis. Here’s what the World No.3 had to say…

On her red-hot start to the season, which saw her win a title in Shenzhen and reach the semifinals at the Australian Open…
“I had very good start, and I just hope I can keep going and playing the same good tennis I was playing in Australia. I have a good rest after that. I was practicing at home and working hard. Hopefully I can really do well here.”

On the challenge of the “openness” of the women’s game…
“For us, for some players that being in the Top 10 for a while, it’s also tough to stay there. There are a lot of talented, young players coming up and playing great tennis. This is another challenge for us to stay there.

There’s a lot of players deserve to be Top 10. We can also see everything is changing every week about the majors as well.”

On how Serena Williams’ dominance affects that openness…
“Of course Serena is always there, especially last year, but other years totally different. She’s definitely dominating if she’s on fire. When she’s playing her best tennis, she just playing unbelievable and too good, but otherwise it’s open.”

On her plans to play in Poland’s Fed Cup tie against Taiwan…
“I want to help my team in April to stay in that World Group, so this is my plan and I hope I can play that. Of course we can see individually busy schedule and tight schedule because of the Olympics, so I really want to stay healthy the whole year. But here we have match at home, so I’m ready to play.”

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Dubai Duty Free: Always Full Of Surprises

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

With nonstop action every week, the WTA tour is always surprising and exciting. Now Dubai Duty Free, official partner of the WTA, brings you the “Always Full Of Surprises” video series to capture the most exciting moments.

What better way to kick things off than with Sara Errani’s huge win at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships?

“There is no explanation,” Errani said of the victory, one of the biggest of her career. “Of course you work to be ready to the matches, but you never know which days you can play better or worse.”

Check out the video above and keep your eyes peeled for more surprises!

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Zheng Stuns Top Seed Kerber

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

DOHA, Qatar – On Tuesday evening, Angelique Kerber found out just how hard life is with a target on her back, slipping to a shock straight set defeat at the hands of Zheng Saisai in the second round of the Qatar Total Open.

Watch live action from Doha & Acapulco this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

World No.73 Zheng made a mockery of her lowly ranking to stun the recently crowned Australian Open champion, 7-5, 6-1, in an hour and 20 minutes.

Zheng becomes only the fourth Chinese player in history to defeat one of the world’s Top 2. In the third round she will face Eugenie Bouchard.

“The feeling is amazing here today,” Zheng said. “Kerber was amazing at the Australian Open and a great champion. For sure it wasn’t her best tennis today, but I’m happy I won that match.”

An accomplished doubles player, Zheng utilized her all-court nous to take the match to Kerber, with 11 of her 17 winners coming at the net. “She’s unbelievable at running so the only way I could win the point sometimes was by coming to the net!”

Zheng complemented her positive tennis with a defensive performance that would have made Kerber proud, coughing up a miserly eight unforced errors.

The decisive moment in the opening set came in the 11th game, Zheng turning the screw with a miraculous stop volley to earn a break point. Kerber wilted under the pressure, hoicking a forehand into the tramlines in a vain attempt to breach the underdog’s defenses.

Confidence now coursing through her game, Zheng raced through the second set, breaking three more times to seal a famous victory.

Kerber, in her first outing on tour since triumphing Down Under, made 38 unforced errors throughout and admitted it was a bad day at the office.

“Actually I was practicing very well in the last few days. But today my practice this morning was not the best. So I was not feeling good from the beginning.

“I think you have sometimes days like this. Of course it’s sad that’s the first round here in Doha for me. Still, I mean, it was not my day. That’s all I can say.”

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