x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will reap benefit of Azarenka's win

The tournament at the Aviation Club expects to showcase eight of the world's top 10 – including the new world No 1 – following her Australian Open final victory.

Victoria Azarenka is confirmed to play at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Victoria Azarenka is confirmed to play at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Maria Sharapova probably was the people's choice, in the Australia Open women's final. The amiable Russian may be the most popular player on the women's tour, and with a victory she would win her fourth grand slam title and complete an inspirational comeback from career-threatening shoulder surgery.

Victoria Azarenka, however, could have counted on the enthusiastic backing from organisers of two WTA events in the Gulf.

It was a straight-forward moment for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the Qatar Open. The winner of the Melbourne match would be the new world No 1, and Azarenka has committed to playing at Doha and Dubai; Sharapova has not.

Azarenka's 6-3, 6-0 victory, then, was good news for marketing and sales in the Gulf. The two events can continue to promote the world No 1, simply substituting Azarenka's name for that of the deposed Carolina Wozniacki.

At 24, Sharapova already has had an eventful career and seems to be pacing herself. She may not play again before the outdoor hard-court season commences in California in March.

Azarenka is a frisky 22, and she is due to arrive in Dubai in three weeks. The tournament at the Aviation Club expects to showcase eight of the world's top 10, even after the shake-up at the top or the rankings yesterday.

With the men's No 1, Novak Djokovic, expected for the men's event the following week, Dubai will have the best of both tennis worlds.