Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2016 preview with Sport360’s Reem Abulleil

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Sport360’s Reem Abulleil analyses the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2016 draw, discusses the last-minute withdrawals from Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber and the contenders for the event in the city.

The Championships gets underway on Monday with defending champion Simona Halep being named top seed after being given a wildcard, having previously battled injury in recent weeks.

Follow Sport360.com throughout the tournament for video analysis, reaction and interviews.










Most popular

Tennis Emirates admit UAE needs Arabic-speaking female coaches

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Omar Behroozian is the only Emirati player in the ATP rankings.

Tennis Emirates, the governing body of the sport in the UAE, are working hard – with the help of  Dubai Duty Free – to develop the game in the country but secretary general Sara Baker admits that finding Arabic-speaking female coaches has been a real challenge.

With the 16th edition of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships set to commence tomorrow, the absence of local talent in the draw has become an obvious yet regrettable reality but Baker insists Emirati females will soon spring up in the big leagues.

“We work very much together with Dubai Duty Free. It’s been 16 years since the launch of this women’s tournament. I don’t think it should take us, as a federation, 16 years to bring up a top player in the UAE,” Baker told Sport360.

“We’ve already started very young now. We have three young girls that are in the federation, that we’re working very hard with. We’re starting with youth development – eventually we will have three more, of a younger age, and it’ll go up so we will not have any gaps.

“We also have gaps with the boys, it’s not only with the girls, so that’s what we want to build upon.”

There is only one Emirati player that appears on the list of ATP rankings – world No1610 Omar Behroozian – while no female players are ranked in the WTA.

“Our only problem right now is finding female trainers that speak Arabic.

“There are lots of English-speaking coaches but when it comes to locals, if we were to go to public schools, you’ll have to have someone who speaks the Arabic language in order to do that.

“So what we’re doing, with the support of the Dubai Duty Free who give a lot of financial support for development, is we train some PE teachers that have the passion for tennis, in order to start with young girls and then once we pick the ones that have potential then we bring a proper coach and move forward.

“So we’re supporting Dubai Duty Free and they’re supporting us.”

The lack of a national tennis centre to provide a home for all local players to train and develop has also been a hindrance to the progress of the sport in the UAE.

Asked if a new centre is on the horizon, Baker said: “I’m very much pushing for it. Hopefully in 2016 you’ll hear that something is happening.”

Most popular

#360view: Dubai withdrawals a worrying trend in the Gulf

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Use #360view to have your say on today's topic.

It is a sad reality but when Serena Williams’ name shows up on the entry list for Dubai, more than likely she will not show up.

The American world No1 has pulled out of the event for the third time in four years, citing illness and heaping misery on tournament organisers who have been dealing with a slew of late withdrawals that have decimated the draw.

It is understandable that many tournaments this season will suffer from the same problem in an Olympic year where many players will try to optimise their calendar as much as possible.

Players are forced to commit to certain tournaments many months in advance and quite often something comes up closer to the date of the event that forces them to change their plans.

Someone like Maria Sharapova has been quite forthcoming about how much she was planning on playing, admitting in Melbourne that she doesn’t see herself competing before Indian Wells, which meant that her withdrawal from Doha next week did not come as a surprise.

Williams, however, has given no tangible signs of pulling out of Dubai although those following her Snapchats from Jamaica a few days ago and those who watched her HSN appearance on Friday night may have guessed she may not be making the trip to the Middle East.

Alas, she has fallen sick and is not coming and once again the tournament has pushed ticket sales with Williams as top billing, and once again fans will not see her play here.

A disappointing byproduct of all the late withdrawals this year is that the fourth wildcard of the tournament went unused.

The four wildcards were initially given to Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova and Julia Goerges.

After so many players pulled out, Goerges ended up making the main draw cut via her ranking but since qualifying had already started by the time the draw was being made, that fourth invite has vanished into thin air.

It’s a shame considering it could have gone to one of the two Arab players who were in qualifying action on Saturday – Fatma Al Nabhani of Oman or Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.

Another possible reason why many players opted out of Dubai this year – besides the illnesses, injuries and scheduling purposes – is the fact that this season, Doha is the Premier 5 event and offering more money and more points, while Dubai is just a Premier tournament.

If a player wants to commit to just one of them, they will always go for the one that offers the bigger rewards.

The two Gulf tournaments alternate that status each year and frankly, the event with the lower status ends up suffering. It makes you wonder whether this set-up is the right way to go.

Most popular