x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Williams is hoping for a quick start

Venus Williams is going to have to overcome Dinara Safina to strengthen the prospect of joining her younger sister Serena in the semi-finals.

The tennis court, on a desert island in the bay of Doha.
The tennis court, on a desert island in the bay of Doha.

DOHA // Venus Williams is going to have to overcome one of the world's in-form players, Dinara Safina, tonight to strengthen the prospect of joining her younger sister Serena in the semi-finals. The American siblings were irritated at being drawn together in the group stages of the end-of-year tournament but are still confident of claiming the two qualifying places, despite the presence of the new world No 2 Safina in their section.

"I'm feeling good about this week," she said. "I'm happy about being in the championships again. "I know what this tournament's all about. And I'm ready to get off the blocks fast. So I'm good with all of that." Venus has been an ambassador for the women's game since emerging from the United States to win the first of her five Wimbledon titles and spoke enthusiastically about the value of her tour's richest event in the region.

"We've been playing in this part of the world for a while now. I have played in Dubai numerous times and I played here in Doha earlier this year," she said. "I think it is a wonderful opportunity to play here and a great opportunity for the tour in general." The Venus-Safina clash is the third of three matches on the opening day of elite tournament, following the all-Russian opener between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva and the all-Serbian affair between Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic.

That leaves only Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva to begin their campaigns tomorrow. wjohnson@thenational.ae