The Middle East swing is upon us and main draw action kicked off on Monday night in Doha although rain suspended the match between Anastasija Sevastova and Sam Stosur, who was leading 7-5, 4-3 before the players were ushered off court.
The weather in Doha so far has made us feel that we’re at Wimbledon, not the Arabian Gulf, and the conditions have been wet, windy and relatively cold for this part of the world.
The top four seeds, headlined by world No2 Angelique Kerber, all have byes in the opening round and are meant to start their campaigns tomorrow. But with thunderstorms forecasted today as well, it’s likely players will have to contest two matches in one day for the tournament to end on Saturday as previously scheduled.
Dodgy weather aside, here are the main WTA storylines to look ahead to over the next fortnight in Doha and Dubai.
Will the No1 ranking switch sides again?
Kerber lost her top spot to Serena Williams after the Australian Open but she can return to the summit if she makes the finals in both Doha and Dubai this month. She has unseated Serena once before and has a chance to do it again.
Can Muguruza find consistency?
Garbine Muguruza winning the French Open feels like a lifetime ago. The Spanish world No7 had a promising start to the year, making semis in Brisbane and quarters at the Australian Open, but she was hampered by an adductor problem there. She comes to Doha after suffering a humbling defeat to Karolina Pliskova in Fed Cup. She can possibly avenge that loss here in Qatar with both of them drawn to face-off in the last-eight. Muguruza made quarters last year in Doha and is a former semi-finalist in Dubai. Maybe the Gulf will witness her resurrection.
Is Konta ready for her Middle East debut?
World No10 Johanna Konta has never played in Dubai or Doha. She pulled out of action this week in Qatar after she helped Great Britain beat Croatia to reach the Fed Cup World Group II play-offs. She’s still scheduled for Dubai though and can be buoyed by the British-heavy crowd of the UAE to go deep in the Premier 5 tournament.
Is Kasatkina ready for another upset?
Russian teen Daria Kasatkina shocked Kerber in Sydney last month. The world No32 made her Doha debut last year and can set-up a rematch with Kerber should she beat Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round.