When the Dubai Tennis Championship organisers sit down to draw up the list for their next event, one name will be missing - Elena Dementieva, the 2008 champion.
A regular in the field since winning the tournament on her debut, Dementieva, 29, stunned the tennis world with her sudden announcement in Doha last month that she was retiring from the sport .
The UAE's tennis fans will remember her fondly. A super athlete and balletic in movement, Dementieva was blessed with an athletic grace that made her one of the most admired and respected players on the women's circuit.
"She's been one of the most professional, nicest girls on tour," Kim Clijsters said at Dementieva's on-court farewell. "It will be rare to see another player like her."
Dementieva, the gold medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, forced her way into the top 20 in 2000 after an impressive run to the semi-finals of the US Open. She stayed there for 524 of the following 529 weeks, including an astonishing 328 weeks in the top 10 and a career-high of No 3 last year.
In a 12-year career, she won 576 of her 849 matches and US$14 million (Dh51.4m) in prize money. She captured 16 WTA titles and reached another 16 finals. The Russian competed in 46 consecutive grand slams, and reached the semi-finals or better on nine occasions, but, frustratingly for her fans, could never win one.
That will surely be a regret for the 29-year-old. For many, she will always be the "best player never to win a grand slam". According to Harold Solomon, her former coach, she suffered because of her humble nature or mental frailty; others blamed her weak serve.
"She's almost too humble, almost embarrassed about being cocky, almost embarrassed about thinking that she's really good," Solomon once said. "In order to be No 1 you need to be able to believe it, know it, feel it, and expect it."
Dementieva's best chance of winning a grand slam came at the finals of the French and US Opens in 2004, when she lost to Anastasia Myskina and Svetlana Kuznetsova respectively.
But she served her country well. As Vera Zvonareva, a compatriot, put it: "You've done so much, not just for Russian tennis but for Russian sport. The whole country is proud of you."
At a glance
Roger Federer moved past Pete Sampras on the list of most career singles titles when he reclaimed his hometown crown from Novak Djokovic with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win in Basle at the Swiss Indoors. It was Federer’s 65th career title and puts him fourth on the list, which is headed by Jimmy Connors with 109. In Valencia, David Ferrer subdued Marcel Granollers 7-5, 6-3.
Player Country Points
1. R Nadal ESP 11,810
2. R Federer SUI 7,695
3. N Djokovic SRB 6,945
4. A Murray GBR 5,670
5. R Soderling SWE 4,960
Ana Ivanovic returned to the Top 20 for the first time in more than a year with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Alisa Kleybanova in the final of the Tournament of Champions in Bali. It was the second title in three weeks for the former world No 1 as the Serb finished her season on a high after slipping to No 65 in July. Italy, meanwhile, won their second successive Fed Cup final against the United States with Flavia Pennetta winning both her matches.
Player Country Points
1. C Wozniacki DEN 8,035
2. V Zvonareva RUS 6,785
3. K Clijsters BEL 6,635
4. S Williams USA 4,985
5. V Williams USA 4,985
BNP Paribas Masters
Duration: Until November 14
Prize money: US$3.84 million (Dh14.1m)
Defending Champion: Novak Djokovic