Elina Svitolina will also add glitter to the star-studded line-up at the Abu Dhabi tourney. File
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin will be among the top four top 10 players to compete at the first WTA tournament of the 2021 season - inaugural Abu Dhabi Open.
The Capital’s first-ever official tennis tournament will be held at the Zayed Sports City International Tennis Centre from Jan.5-13.
The Abu Dhabi’s WTA 500 tournament has a star-studded line-up in place as the event features World No.5 Elina Svitolina, former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka.
Chosen as the perfect destination to kick-off the season further enhances Abu Dhabi's reputation as host to top-level sporting events.
For the past 12 years many of the world's best male players, including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, have descended on the capital to compete in the pre-season Mubadala World Tennis Championships.
The last three editions of the tournament were also graced by Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. The tournament will see four top 10 players along with other 60 players competing for 500 points.
Joining Kenin, Svitolina, Pliskova and Sabelenka at the event are former Roland Garros champions Garbine Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Among the game's rising stars on the entry list are Coco Gauff, Elena Rybakina, Elise Mertens and Marketa Vondrousova.
The 2020 Roland Garros semi-finalist, Nadia Podorska, and two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Ons Jabeur are also in the field along with World No.12 Belinda Bencic and World No.22 Maria Sakkari.
As a pair, Mertens and Sabalenka head the doubles field alongside the Czech partnership of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.
The qualifiers for the Australian Open will take place in Dubai from Jan. 10-13. Players and their support staff will then travel to Australia where they will complete the mandatory two-week Covid-19 quarantine period.
The WTA recently announced that two tournaments in Melbourne in the week commencing on Jan. 31 and another in the second week of the Australian Open for players knocked out of the Grand Slam.
The WTA 250 tournaments in Auckland and Shenzhen will not be held in 2021 due to travel restrictions but the WTA said in a statement that it hoped to restore them to the calendar in 2022.
The WTA will continue to monitor the evolving status of tournaments for the remainder of 2021 with an announcement in the coming weeks surrounding a more expansive calendar.
Meanwhile, World No.1 Ashleigh Barty heads the field for the first Grand Slam tournament of the new season - the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in February 2021.
Also in contention are WTA World No.2 Simona Halep, 2020 US Open winner Naomi Osaka and defending champion Kenin.
Serena Williams will be seeking a record-tying 24th Slam singles title by winning an eighth Australian Open crown. Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka returns, having missed the tournament in 2020, alongside Poland's Iga Swiatek, the newest Grand Slam women’s champion who won Roland Garros in October.
World ranked 139 Tauson saw off Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 6-1 to guarantee a top 100 debut on Monday. Tauson was playing in just her third main draw and with Sunday's win confirmed her status as one of the sport's in-form players.
The 22-year-old Belarusian tennis star Aryna Sabalenka finished her 2020 campaign with triumphs in Ostrava and Linz and will be one of the favourites for the delayed Australian Open next month.
Ons jabeur, a beacon of encouragement and hope for every aspiring female in the Arab world playing tennis, will be one of the star attractions when the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships gets underway next month.
The 39-year-old comes in for the injured Danilo, who mysteriously suffered broken ribs, as one of three changes made by Portugal coach Fernando Santos.
The World Triathlon Championship Series will return to its traditional kick-off venue of Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, on March 3-4, with stops already confirmed in Yokohama, Hamburg, Sunderland; and will finish with the Championship Finals in Pontevedra, Spain, on Sept.23-24.
"I know him pretty well. He's a wonderful bowler and he's turned into a fine leader for Pakistani cricket," McCullum told a press conference. "Shaheen's obviously a big loss."