June 18, 2024

This Week: Sabalenka returns; Swiatek bids to go back-to-back; Alcaraz, Gauff look to reset

Several players are having a short flight this week. Men in South America hop from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, but women in the Middle East travel an hour to get from Doha to Dubai across the Persia Gulf.

I bet Alex de Minaur is jealous. This week, the Australian, who lost the Sunday’s Rotterdam final, will compete in another tournament in Los Cabos, which is about 6,000 miles and many time zones away.

Here’s a preview of another multi-surface, multi-continental week in February.

Top 10 Best Women's Tennis Players I WTA Ranking 2019 I Naomi Osaka is No.  1 - YouTube

The caché of the Sunshine Double (Indian Wells and Miami) has never been matched by the Desert Double (Doha and Dubai). But they’re now a match in terms of tournament levels. Doha and Dubai have both been promoted to 1000s on the WTA circuit, and they have the fields to prove it.

The Top 4 players on the tour, Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff, and Elena Rybakina, are all present and accounted for in Dubai, and each has a compelling backstory.

Here, Swiatek will attempt to claim her maiden title. She has failed to win in Dubai since losing in the final to Barbora Krejcikova in 2023 despite winning three consecutive in Doha. She will begin this time against Sloane Stephens and may face Zheng Qinwen, the finalist of the Australian Open, in

Returning for the first time since winning the Australian Open, Sabalenka will aim to keep gaining ground on Swiatek, who has runner-up points to protect, in the race for the top spot. Sabalenka has never won Dubai, just like Swiatek. Donna Vekic, her opponent in the first round this year, is no pushover.

Gauff is a player who wants to resume his career. She lost to Katerina Siniakova in a mistake-filled opening last week in Doha. She is hoping to improve this week as she plays Elisabetta Cocciaretto, who is rated 55th.

Back in the Before Times of 2020, Rybakina qualified for the Dubai final. She also qualified for the Doha final last week. She has performed as well as any player in 2024 thus far, yet her body of work is lacking.

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