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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Angelique Kerber leads Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships players excelling at Australian Open

German is into the semi-finals and is one of four players who will compete in Dubai to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne.

Angelique Kerber, right, and Madison Keys after their Australian Open quarter-final. Both players will compete at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Edgar Su / Reuters
Angelique Kerber, right, and Madison Keys after their Australian Open quarter-final. Both players will compete at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Edgar Su / Reuters

Four of the eight Australian Open quarter-finalists will be in action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month, ensuring another competitive field for the tournament.

Chief among those is Angelique Kerber, who advanced to the last-four in Melbourne on Wednesday with victory over another Dubai-bound player in Madison Keys.

When the Dubai line-up was announced last week, Kerber was ranked No 16 in the world, making the German just the eighth-highest ranked player set to compete in Dubai.

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Kerber’s comparatively low ranking is a result of a tough 2017 season for the former world No 1, but a fine start to 2018, which has included the Sydney Open title, has provided plenty of evidence that the two-time grand slam champion is rediscovering her past form.

With a place in the Australian Open semi-finals, Kerber is already guaranteed a return to the top 10 and in her current form could rise even higher by the time the action kicks off in the UAE on February 19.

Joining Kerber in Dubai will be defending champion Elina Svitolina, who also enjoyed a deep run in Melbourne before her defeat in the last-eight to Elise Mertens. Ukraine’s world No 4 Svitolina, who won the Brisbane International title earlier this month, complained of a hip injury following her loss and will hope to recover in time for her title defence.

Also in Dubai following a quarter-final appearance in Australia will be Czech world No 6 Karolina Pliskova, whose Melbourne campaign came to an end against top seed Simona Halep on Wednesday.

As well as half of the Australian Open quarter-finalists, Dubai will welcome Spain’s world No 3 Garbine Muguruza, Caroline Garcia, the world No 8 from France, and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

"Once again tennis fans will be able to enjoy many great matches, including some of those players who have thrilled so many with their performances in Australia this month," said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. "Competition will be strong and it is impossible to predict who will emerge at the 2018 champions."

Two weeks of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will begin with the WTA tournament from February 19-24, before the ATP event gets underway on February 25.

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