American tennis star Venus Williams has jumped 15 places in the latest WTA rankings thanks in no small part to her recent triumph at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Previously ranked No44, Williams has climbed into the top 30 at No29 two days after lifting her third title in Dubai where she defeated Frenchwoman Alize Cornet – also up in the rankings from 26th to 23rd.
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams rolled back the years last week when she knocked out a succession of seeded players while never dropping a set.
Younger Williams sister Serena, who reached the semi-finals in Dubai, retains her place at the top of the rankings by a considerable margin, with almost double the points as world No2 and Australian Open champion Li Na.
Petra Kvitova – the 2013 Dubai Champion – fell three places to ninth after getting eliminated in the second round last week, while a shock first round loss at the Australian Open also did her little favours.
While there we no changes in the order of the top five, there was plenty of movement in the four following places.
As well as the drop by Kvitova, Jelena Jankovic fell a place to eighth as Doha champion Simona Halep and her final opponent Angelique Kerber climbed to seventh and sixth respectively.
WTA TOP TEN RANKINGS
1 Serena Williams (USA) – 12660pts
2 Li Na (China) – 6795pts
3 Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) – 5705pts
4 Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) – 5681pts
5 Maria Sharapova (Russia) – 5206pts
6 Angelique Kerber (Germany) – 4490pts
7 Simona Halep (Romania) – 4435pts
8 Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) – 4380pts
9 Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) – 4365pts
10 Sara Errani (Italy) – 4195pts
Day one of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships ATP tournament saw over 700 children from local schools participate in this year’s ATP Kids’ Day.
Held at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, participating students were treated to entertainment, a tennis clinic, and a special visit from top ATP players.
Arriving as the day was getting underway were tournament number one seeds in doubles, Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor. The pair were impressed with the enthusiasm of the children.
“It’s always great to come out and spend time with the kids, every year it improves with more and more kids in attendance," said Nestor. "It really makes a difference in growing the sport of tennis. Hopefully they will be inspired by this week and become the future champions of the sport.”
Conducted in partnership with the Clark Francis Tennis Academy, the event gave many of the children their first opportunity to try tennis.
“It was an amazing success," said Paul Espie, Assistant Director of Tennis at Clark Francis Tennis Academy. "The aim of the day is to give the kids an experience which may encourage an interest in tennis; it was a great turnout and a wonderful day.
"We also had the wonderful privilege of having Nenad and Daniel here to have a hit with some aspiring tennis players”.
Rami Hamzeh, a grade four student at Raffles International School was delighted to participate in the day: “It was so much fun, you can play a bit of tennis and there’s a lot of music, prizes and competitions and we get to see Federer later!”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak described today’s action as the perfect way to kick off week two at this year’s championships.
“We are delighted with the turnout today, it is great to see so many kids on the court, and having so much fun. “We hope that this day inspires these children to take up tennis and we hope to see them competing here someday”.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The ATP tournament commenced on 24th February, and follows the WTA tournament which saw Venus Williams win her third Dubai title.
The tournament features ATP world number two and last year’s winner includes defending champion Novak Djokovic, five-time winner Roger Federer, recent Australian Open semi-finalist Tomas Berdych, former US Open winner and recent Sydney champion Juan Martin Del Potro, and charismatic Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
For further information about the tournament visit dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com or phone the call centre on +971 4 4172415.
As the men's first round draws near Reem Abduleill gives her thoughts on how the most eye-catching early ties might pan out and takes a trip down memory lane to look at the tournament's most memorable moments from years gone by.
Roger Federer (SUI)  V Benjamin Becker (GER)
Federer is 3-0 against the German veteran. Their most recent meeting came in Basel in 2012. The Swiss has never dropped a set to the 93rd-ranked Becker but considering Federer’s previous slow starts in Dubai, it wouldn’t be too much of a shock if he is tested today. Federer looks in incredible shape though and has been practicing hard.
Verdict: Federer in two.
Novak Djokovic (SRB)  V Denis Istomin (UZB)
Malek Jaziri (TUN) [WC] Igor V Sijsling (NED)
A tough opener for the only Arab in the draw. Sijsling is enjoying a career high ranking of 52, having recently impressed by making the Rotterdam semis. The Dutchman has beaten Jaziri before in a Challenger final in 2012.
Verdict: Sijsling in three.
Ivanisevic bt Becker by walkover
It was the clash of the titans that never was. Goran Ivanisevic was set to take on Boris Becker for a spot in the semifinals but the German made a lastminute withdrawal from the match with a wrist injury, giving Ivanisevic a bye into the semis. The Croat ended up losing in the final to Thomas Muster.
2008 First round
Murray bt Federer 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4
It was Murray’s second win over Federer, having also beaten him in their previous meeting in Cincinnati in 2006. Federer was the defending champion in Dubai and he later criticised Murray’s game and on-court positioning.
Djokovic bt Youzhny 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
The final four years ago was played over two days after torrential rain halted the match when Djokovic was leading Youzhny by a set and a break on Saturday. Youzhny came back firing the next day, breaking back and taking the second set before Djokovic recovered to win.