By Sports Reporter/Doha
Fans in the country will once again be treated to some amazing tennis when the 15th edition of Qatar Total Open is held from February 13-18 at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha.
Of the 32 singles players and 16 doubles team featuring in the six-day event, all eyes will definitely be on the top five seeds —former World No 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, Czech’s Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza of Spain — as major contenders for the top-prize money and the trophy.
For Kerber, this year’s tournament provides a good opportunity to redeem herself from the second round shock defeat she suffered at the hands of Zheng Saisai of China at last year’s event.
The number one seed Kerber was the overwhelming favourite in 2016 having entered the event on the back of a successful Australian Open where she defeated Serena Williams in the final and thus claim the world number one spot.
This year, however, she will be hoping to bounce back in grand style in Qatar after a series of disappointments, which saw her exiting the 2017 Australian Open in the Round of 16 as well as losing her number one spot to Williams.
Radwanska, on the other hand, will be hoping to go a step higher than her last year’s performance when she ended her campaign in the semi-finals after suffering a straight sets defeat at the hands of eventual champion Carla Suárez Navarro of Spain.
Seeded number two this year, the 27-year-old world number six, who was voted the winner of WTA Shot Of The Year for the fourth time in a row, is expecting to lift her first trophy of the year at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex. She has so far not won any title in 2017, having competed at Shenzhen Open, where she was the defending champion, Sydney International and the Australian Open.
Known for her quick and aggressive style of play, Slovakia’s Cibulkova, winner of eight WTA singles titles and two on the International Tennis Federation tour, is the third seed at this year’s event.
The 27-year-old 2014 Australian Open finalist, has continued to dazzle fans with her pace and skills on the court which saw her ending 2016 as the winner of the WTA Finals, thus becoming the fourth player (after Serena Williams in 2001, Maria Sharapova in 2004 and Petra Kvitova in 2011) to win the tournament on debut.
It has been so far so good for Czech Republic’s Pliskova, who reached her highest career ranking of world number three on Monday.
The Doha tournament provides a good platform for the 24-year-old, who has won six singles and five doubles titles on the WTA tour, to prove her mettle. She is seeded number four for this year’s Qatar Total Open.
Muguruza, who turned professional in 2012, first came into prominence at the 2014 Australian Open where she forced an upset over Caroline Wozniacki, the 2011 Qatar Total Open finalist, before reaching the fourth round.
Muguruza, 23, has won three singles titles, most notably at the 2016 French Open where she beat world No. 1 Williams in the final.
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