The 2016 Dubai Duty Free Championships field has been decimated by withdrawals prior to the commencement of the event. Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska, Lucie Safarova, Timea Bacsinszky, Caroline Wozniacki and Alize Cornet among those to withdraw from the event. Nevertheless, the draw is still filled with top quality players, defending champion Simona Halep will be the top seed with Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova looming as the Romanian’s biggest threats in Dubai.
— Dubai Tennis Champs (@DDFTennis) February 13, 2016
The draw has thrown up some intriguing first round matches in Dubai, most notably: Ana Ivanovic vs Daria Gavrilova, Anna Schmiedlova vs Caroline Garcia, Andrea Petkovic vs Camila Giorgi, Jelena Jankovic vs Belinda Bencic and Karolina Pliskova vs CoCo Vandeweghe. There will be no easy matches for any players right from the start, a couple of the top seeds look set for a very difficult first up challenge.
There are also a number of potentially dangerous qualifiers to be added to the main draw in the coming days, including Yaroslova Shvedova, Varvara Lepchenko, Alison Riske and Tsvetana Pironkova.
Simona Halep has been dealt a tough draw in Dubai, the defending champion and top seed will receive a bye through the opening round before playing either Ana Ivanovic or Daria Gavrilova in the second round. This is an important week for the Romanian, Simona has made a terrible start to the season, highlighted by her shocking first round loss to Zhang Shuai at the Australian Open. Simona showed signs of improvement during Romania’s Fed Cup tie with the Czech Republic, Simona lost to Karolina Pliskova in three sets but rebounded with a three set victory over Petra Kvitova. The world number 3 needs a big week to give herself a much needed confidence moving forward.
The bottom quarter of the draw is filled with potential blockbuster matches. Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza could be on track for a quarter-final meeting, but before that Pliksova could face Kristina Mladenovic in the second round if she can navigate her way through a tough first round match with CoCo Vandeweghe. Overall, it is a very tough draw for the 2015 runner-up. Whilst Garbine Muguruza could face Elina Svitolina in the second round.
There are numerous realistic potential champions this week in Dubai. St. Petersburg finalists Roberta Vinci and Belinda Bencic will be the two form players heading into the event but may struggle physically towards the end of the event. Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza are the three biggest names in the draw but all of them bring questionable form into the event. Perhaps this is a perfect opportunity for players like Caroline Garcia, Elina Svitolina, Camila Giorgi or Daria Gavrilova to claim a maiden premier level title?
Predicted Champion: Garbine Muguruza
Who do you think will win the title in Dubai? Let me know what you think, leave a comment 🙂