DUBAI // Jelena Jankovic, having made the city her new home, is hoping to keep the Dubai Tennis Championship women's title in the country when the tournament starts at Dubai's Aviation Club tomorrow. Jankovic, the sixth seed, has been given a first-round bye as one of the top eight seeds in the tournament - Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Elena Dementieva, Agnieszka Radwanska and Na Li are the others - but the Serb said she cannot wait to get out on the court and start playing.
"It would be nice [to win the title], but I don't want to talk too much," said Jankovic, the former world No 1 who has reached the last-four of the tournament three times. "I just want to try my best and I am looking forward to playing my first match, which will be Monday or Tuesday. "We will see how things go for me. I hope for the best. I had great matches in the Fed Cup against Russia. I played some good tennis and I am really looking forward to the tournament. I will try my best and hopefully have a good run."
Jankovic, 24, awaits the winner of the first-round match between Sybille Bammer and Aravane Rezai and has been placed in the same half of the draw as Kuznetsova, the second seed and French Open champion, Azarenka, the fourth seed, and Radwanska. The other half of the draw is headlined by Wozniacki, the top seed from Denmark, Venus Williams, the defending champion, Russia's Dementieva, the 2008 winner, and Li Na, the Chinese who reached the semi- finals of the Australian Open last month.
Venus's sister Serena, the world No 1, and Dinara Safina, the world No 2, are absent from the tournament through injuries. But with 13 of the WTA Tour's top 15 in the frame for the top prize of US$350,000 (Dh1.2million) and 900 ranking points, Colm McLoughlin, the managing director of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free, is looking forward to an exciting tournament. "It is remarkable that the 10th Women's Open has come around so quickly," said McLoughlin.
"We've had some fabulous champions here since 2001 and I expect this year's tournament to be no different. "With almost every top player competing, we are assured of some thrilling battles." Wildcards have been given to Flavia Pannetta, the world No 12, Maria Kirilenko, who beat Maria Sharapova in the first round of the Australian Open on her way to the quarter-finals, Stefanie Voegele and Selima Sfar, the Tunisian who has played in eight of the nine tournaments here so far.
As the fans wait for the top seeds to grace the courts there should be no shortage of excitement in the first round with Sania Mirza, the Indian player who is one of the biggest crowd-pullers at the event, meeting Anabel Medina Garrigues and Vera Zvonareva clashing with her Russian compatriot Elena Vesnina. firstname.lastname@example.org