Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge: Watch the future stars war
For all those out there suffering from tennis withdrawal symptoms now that the ATP and WTA seasons are on hiatus, we’ve got great news for you. Women’s tennis comes to Dubai this week to satisfy all your tennis needs.
The 15th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge 2012 (AHTC) officially kicks off today at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa, where three of the world’s top 100 players headline an interesting field that also includes the amazing Japanese veteran and former world No4 Kimiko Date-Krumm and Russia’s Vera Dushevina, a former top-40 player.
Throughout the years, the AHTC has lived by the motto “Bringing to Dubai today, the stars of tomorrow” and indeed some of the WTA’s biggest stars enjoyed their early success by winning this very tournament such as Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Sania Mirza and former world No1 Jelena Jankovic, who is the guest of honour of the tournament this week and helped launch the event at the draw ceremony and press conference at the hotel yesterday.
Jankovic says the tournament has a special place in her heart having won the title here nine years ago and she believes we’re in for some interesting matches.
“It’s an honour for me to be here. I have great memories of winning this tournament,” said the 27-year-old. “I’m just happy to see everyone here again and I’m looking forward to enjoying some great competition this week. I think we’re going to have some great tennis. One of the tough first round matches to look out for is Anastasija Sevastova against Kimiko Date-Krumm.
“I invite as many people as possible to come and watch the tennis here all week. It’s a beautiful place, great weather and some great matches. We’re going to have fun.”
Jankovic is not the only star attraction on site this week as former world No1 and five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis is also present and is reportedly coaching the 17-year-old Kazakh player Yulia Putintseva – ranked 125 in the world.
For the first time in the tournament’s history, the Arab world’s top two female players – Ons Jabeur of Tunisia (former Roland Garros junior champion) and Fatma Al Nabhani of Oman (gold medallist at the Arab Games) –will take part in the tournament with both opening their doubles campaigns today before Jabeur begins her singles journey tomorrow.
Tournament director Ivica Ancic, a former ATP player and brother of former world No7 Mario Ancic, says: “We’re looking forward to having people come out and watch the tennis. It’s going to be high level of tennis throughout the week because most of the girls here are playing Grand Slams, which are the biggest events in tennis. So we’re going to have great matches.
“And having Jelena around is also great. She will be conducting clinics for kids and ladies. So we encourage people to come and watch some good matches and also take part in the clinics.”
The Kids’ Clinic will take place on Saturday between 12:00 and 13:00 before the final kicks off at 14:00, while a Ladies Morning Clinic is scheduled from 10:00 to 11:00 on Friday.
If you’re interested in signing up for the clinics, you can contact the Habtoor Grand hotel directly on 04-4084444. The main draw action starts today with matches beginning at 12:00 and will be going on all day until 20:00.
What: 15th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge 2012
When: Starts today at 12:00 and runs until Saturday, December 1
Where: Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa, Dubai
Cost: Free to watch