Any chance of another one of those sister acts at this year's Barclays Dubai Duty Free Women's Open was blown late on Thursday after world number one Serena Williams officially announced that she won't be making the trip to Dubai due to a leg injury. For a tournament that had attracted as strong a field as any Grand Slam it meant a huge blow, especially after world number two Dinara Safina had earlier said she would not be making the trip.
And the announcement deprived the competition of a possible showdown between the two Williams — Serena and Venus. Tournament Director Salah Tahlak was left ruing Serena's withdrawal, but was realistic enough when he pointed out the depth of the field. "We still have 16 of the top 20 players in the draw," Tahlak stated.
Until the withdrawal of second-ranked Safina due to a back injury, the women's draw was arguably one of the best seen in recent times — all the top 10 women had confirmed their presence at the $2 million (Dh7.34 million) tournament, now ranked as a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Premium event.
The younger of the two Williams has the edge over her sister with a 13-10 head-to-head record during their 23 career meetings. In 2009, the two played each other five times with Venus triumphing just once at the semifinals of the Barclays Dubai Duty Free Women's Open.
However, despite the loss of Serena, the field is still sturdy and includes Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed here, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Victoria Azarenka, Elena Dementieva, Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska and the Chinese pair who made history by powering their way into the semifinals in Australia — Na Li and Jie Zheng. Hoping there will be no further injuries and withdrawals, the player line-up still looks good enough for a healthy and competitive tournament with Venus trying to defend her title while an army of younger players challenge her.
- Article courtesy of Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter (Gulf News)