epa03059981 Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 15 January 2012. The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year, will begin on 16 January.  EPA/AHMAD YUSNI
Petra Kvitova is focused on trying to win the Australian Open, not on the possibility of becoming world No 1.

Top billing not the focus for Petra Kvitova in Melbourne

For someone within touching distance of the world's top ranking, Petra Kvitova seems non-plussed about the possibility of achieving the milestone when the Australian Open begins tomorrow.

The tall 21 year old, who could become the second Czech woman to achieve the world No 1 after Martina Navaratilova, only began to take tennis more seriously at 16 and said the possible achievement had never entered her mind.

"Actually when I start (to) play tennis, I didn't think I would be (a) professional tennis player," Kvitova said on Sunday. "So for me (I) won Wimbledon, (the WTA) Championships, Fed Cup, it wasn't my dream. But it's very nice.

"If I maybe can be number one, it will be very nice, too, of course."

Kvitova has been questioned relentlessly about the top ranking since she arrived in Australia, where she played Hopman Cup and the Sydney International and actually had the opportunity to snatch it before the first grand slam of the year.

She had to win the Sydney tournament to leapfrog Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, though she lost in the semi-finals to China's Li Na.

Wozniacki will need to at least make the fourth round at Melbourne Park to give her the chance of retaining the top spot, and Kvitova was quick to point out that any number of players (actually six) could be world No 1 in two weeks time.

"Yeah, I mean, it's very close (to being No 1), but still it's really far away because, you know, many players can be really top," she said.

"I mean, it's really open now, the women's tennis. Everybody from top can play really well.

"I know it's just some points, but still it's really big step."

The rangy left-hander with a powerful serve and booming forehand is being touted as being at the forefront of a generational change in the women's game, having won her first grand slam title, the season-ending WTA Championships and helped the Czech Republic to the Fed Cup title.

She also won six titles, the same numbers as Wozniacki, on the tour last year, though she was a little reticent to suggest she could repeat the feat this year.

"The last year was great for me. Of course, I had many (good) results. It will be very tough to have similar results this year.

"I know it will be very tough, but still I just want to be focused on my game and we will see."

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

The biog

Favourite food: Tabbouleh, greek salad and sushi

Favourite TV show: That 70s Show

Favourite animal: Ferrets, they are smart, sensitive, playful and loving

Favourite holiday destination: Seychelles, my resolution for 2020 is to visit as many spiritual retreats and animal shelters across the world as I can

Name of first pet: Eddy, a Persian cat that showed up at our home

Favourite dog breed: I love them all - if I had to pick Yorkshire terrier for small dogs and St Bernard's for big

How The Debt Panel's advice helped readers in 2019

December 11: 'My husband died, so what happens to the Dh240,000 he owes in the UAE?'

JL, a housewife from India, wrote to us about her husband, who died earlier this month. He left behind an outstanding loan of Dh240,000 and she was hoping to pay it off with an insurance policy he had taken out. She also wanted to recover some of her husband’s end-of-service liabilities to help support her and her son.

“I have no words to thank you for helping me out,” she wrote to The Debt Panel after receiving the panellists' comments. “The advice has given me an idea of the present status of the loan and how to take it up further. I will draft a letter and send it to the email ID on the bank’s website along with the death certificate. I hope and pray to find a way out of this.”

November 26:  ‘I owe Dh100,000 because my employer has not paid me for a year’

SL, a financial services employee from India, left the UAE in June after quitting his job because his employer had not paid him since November 2018. He owes Dh103,800 on four debts and was told by the panellists he may be able to use the insolvency law to solve his issue. 

SL thanked the panellists for their efforts. "Indeed, I have some clarity on the consequence of the case and the next steps to take regarding my situation," he says. "Hopefully, I will be able to provide a positive testimony soon."

October 15: 'I lost my job and left the UAE owing Dh71,000. Can I return?'

MS, an energy sector employee from South Africa, left the UAE in August after losing his Dh12,000 job. He was struggling to meet the repayments while securing a new position in the UAE and feared he would be detained if he returned. He has now secured a new job and will return to the Emirates this month.

“The insolvency law is indeed a relief to hear,” he says. "I will not apply for insolvency at this stage. I have been able to pay something towards my loan and credit card. As it stands, I only have a one-month deficit, which I will be able to recover by the end of December." 

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Uefa Champions League final:

Who: Real Madrid v Liverpool
Where: NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine
When: Saturday, May 26, 10.45pm (UAE)
TV: Match on BeIN Sports


All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Nice v Angers (9pm)
Lille v Monaco (10.45pm)

Montpellier v Paris Saint-Germain (7pm)
Bordeaux v Guingamp (10pm)
Caen v Amiens (10pm)
Lyon v Dijon (10pm)
Metz v Troyes (10pm)

Saint-Etienne v Rennes (5pm)
Strasbourg v Nantes (7pm)
Marseille v Toulouse (11pm)

The biog

Name: Dhabia Khalifa AlQubaisi

Age: 23

How she spends spare time: Playing with cats at the clinic and feeding them

Inspiration: My father. He’s a hard working man who has been through a lot to provide us with everything we need

Favourite book: Attitude, emotions and the psychology of cats by Dr Nicholes Dodman

Favourit film: 101 Dalmatians - it remind me of my childhood and began my love of dogs 

Word of advice: By being patient, good things will come and by staying positive you’ll have the will to continue to love what you're doing

Fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit

As he spoke, Mr Aboul Gheit repeatedly referred to the need to tackle issues affecting the welfare of people across the region both in terms of preventing conflict and in pushing development.
Lebanon is scheduled to host the fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in January that will see regional leaders gather to tackle the challenges facing the Middle East. The last such summit was held in 2013. Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki told The National that the Beirut Summit “will be an opportunity for Arab leaders to discuss solely economic and social issues, the conference will not focus on political concerns such as Palestine, Syria or Libya". He added that its slogan will be “the individual is at the heart of development”, adding that it will focus on all elements of human capital.

Babumoshai Bandookbaaz

Director: Kushan Nandy

Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bidita Bag, Jatin Goswami

Three stars


Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

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