Babos, Bouchard Dubai-bound for Australian Open qualifying - GulfToday

Babos, Bouchard Dubai-bound for Australian Open qualifying

Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard in action. File

Timea Babos and Eugenie Bouchard will join a 128-strong field for the Australian Open qualifying event from Jan.10-13, which is being held in Dubai.

A competitive field will travel to Dubai for 2021 Australian Open women’s qualifying from Jan.10-13.

The decision to host the qualifying event offshore is due to the Covid-19 pandemic and will see 128 women compete for 16 spots in the main draw for the Australian Open in Melbourne from Feb.8-21.

“From the beginning of all our planning for the Australian Open, our objective has been to provide the players with as many competition opportunities, and the ability to earn prize money, as we possibly could,” said Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley.

“From the beginning of all our planning for the Australia Open our objective has been to provide the players with as many competition opportunities, and the ability to earn prize money, as we possibly could, Tiley was quoted as saying on the Australian Open website.

“I’d like to thank the Brandplus team of Bharat Godkhindi, Kay Godkhindi and Sagari Godkhindi for their ongoing support and friendship in organising this event.”

Dubai Sports Council, the approving authority for all sports and cultural events added, ”Over the past few months, Dubai’s credentials as one of the leading host of top international sports events has been on display for the world, first with the Indian Premier League and then with golf’s European Tour.

“Now, we are really proud to welcome 128 tennis players from around the globe for the women’s qualifying of the Australian Open 2021. The decision to host these events here shows the global sports fraternity’s confidence in Dubai’s ability to deliver top notch tournaments in completely safe surroundings in these challenging times.

“Tennis players are a regular here, both for training and time off, and they know what Dubai has to offer. We are sure they will be looking forward to the qualifying tournament here and giving off their best in a totally safe environment, with all the necessary COVID-19 precautions and protocols in place.”

Babos, two-time Australian Open and Roland Garros doubles champion and one half of the 2020 WTA Doubles Team of the Year, is among the entrants in the singles qualifying field.

Former WTA World No.5 and 2014 Australian Open semifinalist Bouchard and experienced Swiss player Stefanie Vogele, who is vying to make her eighth Australian Open main draw appearance, will also compete.

Other notable contenders include Australian Open 2012 quarterfinalist Sara Errani, former WTA World No.20 Mihaela Buzarnescu, 2020 US Open quarterfinalist Tsvetana Pironkova and former WTA World No.35 CiCi Bellis.

The youngest competitors on the entry list include two former Australian Open girls’ singles champions – Clara Tauson (DEN) and Liang En-Shuo (TPE). The 18-year-old Tauson, who won the Australian Open girls’ title in 2019, is the first Danish player to top the junior rankings and made her Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros this year. Liang, a 20-year-old who won the AO 2018 girls’ title, will also travel to Dubai.

World No.161 Whitney Osuigwe (USA), also a former world No.1 junior who made her first Australian Open main draw in 2019, is another one to keep an eye on.  

Nine Australian women will compete in Dubai with Kimberly Birrell and Ellen Perez joining qualifying wildcards Seone Mendez, Abbie Myers, Storm Sanders, Ivana Popovic, Olivia Gadecki, Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz, Alexandra Bozovic in the qualifying field.

Players will need to win three qualifying matches to qualify for the main draw and all matches are best of three sets. Following the event, the 16 qualifiers will be joined by a further six alternate players and travel to Australia to undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine with other main draw players.

The qualifying draw will be held on Saturday, Jan.9.

The players will then travel to Melbourne to carry out the mandatory two-week quarantine period as stipulated by the Victoria State authorities prior to the start of the Australian Open.

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