x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Venus' trip to Doha not a done deal

Venus Williams will be keeping a close eye on the fortunes of Russia's Vera Zvonareva and Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in Linz as the race to take part in the Sony Ericsson WTA tour finals approaches its climax.

It is still unclear whether Venus Williams will get to play at the Doha event.
It is still unclear whether Venus Williams will get to play at the Doha event.

Venus Williams will be keeping a close eye on the fortunes of Russia's Vera Zvonareva and particularly Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in Linz, Austria this week as the race to take part in the prestigious Sony Ericsson WTA tour finals in Doha from Nov 3-10 approaches its climax.

Williams moved to the brink of qualification for the annual play-offs between the top eight by claiming what was only her second tour title of the year in Zurich last weekend and occupies seventh place in the race. The American is having one of her frequent breaks this week, confident that she has done enough to be able to book her flight to Doha, although there is a mathematical chance that she can be denied if both Zvonareva, the second seed in Linz behind Ana Ivanovic, and third-seeded Radwanska hit top form on the run-in to the finals.

Zvonareva is the lesser concern for Williams. It matters little if she moves from eighth to seventh but if Radwanska also picks up a bundle of points then Venus will not be able to join her younger sister Serena in the Middle East. For that to happen, Radwanska would have to win the Austrian title on Sunday and then do the same in Canada next week - she has not yet declared her intention to play in that Quebec tournament - so Venus was able to speak positively after her Zurich final win over Italy's Flavia Pennetta.

"I haven't managed to play at the championships since 2002 so obviously I'm excited to be healthy enough to play there this year," she said. Those above her in the rankings would have preferred her to stay away. Whenever the Californian siblings attend one of the world's key events they are in it to win it and there could well be a repeat in Doha of the Wimbledon final they contested in July. Jelena Jankovic, who defeated Venus during a 12-match winning streak of three straight tournament wins, may be the most optimistic of preventing another episode of Sister Act. The Serbian, who is now assured to end the year as world No 1, knew that when she arrived in Zurich last week and can be forgiven for falling at the first hurdle to Pennetta.

Ivanovic, who held the top ranking briefly this year, has struggled for form since her career zenith of winning the French Open in June, will need to improve massively to be a threat. Also in the running are the Russians Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Maria Sharapova, their compatriot, has enough points to qualify but has been out of action injured since August. wjohnson@thenational.ae