By Sports Reporter Doha
Tennis lovers are in for a splendid time as nine of the world's top-ten players have confirmed their participation at this year's Qatar Total Open to be held from March 1 to 6 at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha.
Except for the World No. 3 and three-time Grand Slam winner, Naomi Osaka of Japan, all the superstars in the upper echelon of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour, led by World No.1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia, will be vying for glory in Doha — in what promises to be one of the best tournaments in the region so far.
Joining the 2019 French Open champion Barty at the annual WTA Tour Premier tournament are World No. 2 Simona Halep, the 2014 champion, and 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
Others on the cards for the 19th edition of the annual tournament are 2019 Wimbledon Open semi-finalist Elina Svitolina, 2017 champion Karolina Pliskova, 2020 champion Aryna Sabalenka, 2018 champion Petra Kvitova, 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu and Kiki Bertens, the 2016 French Open semi-finalist.
The 24-year-old Barty, who Petra Kvitova stopped in last year's semi-finals, will be hoping to lay her hands on the golden falcon trophy for the first time on her second appearance in Doha.
Barty, a former cricketer who became the second Australian to capture the WTA Finals crown following 1974 and 1976 champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley, and the fifth player to win the tournament as a debutante, is having her second successive season on the top of the WTA rankings.
She secured the ninth title of her professional career on Sunday at the Yarra Valley Classic after defeating Spain's Garbine Muguruza in straight sets.
Since the tournament began in 2001, only three players — Anastasia Myskina (2003, 2004), Maria Sharapova (2005, 2008) and Victoria Azarenka (2012, 2013) — have had the privilege of lifting the trophy on more than one occasion.
"We are very excited with the array of stars on parade at this year's tournament, which is one of the strongest. Having nine out of the ten top stars confirmed for this tournament indicates the importance they've placed on the Qatar Total Open. The tournament has always lived to its promise of bringing the best of tennis to sports lovers in Doha, and we look forward to another exciting time this year as well. We cannot wait enough to welcome all the stars come March," Tariq Zainal, QTF Secretary-General, said.
In all, a total of 32 players, including four qualifiers, are expected to feature in the singles event of the WTA Premier 5 tournament while 16 teams will slug it out in the doubles.
Tournament Director Saad al-Mohannadi said, "Another round of exciting tennis is here, and we are happy to be hosting the World's best players in Doha again. We are delighted with the superstars' interests, which is a testimony to the wonderful hospitality they've always enjoyed in Doha - the home of hospitality. We look forward to welcoming everyone to this exciting tournament come March."Last updated: February 08 2021 11:34 PM
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