The Hologic WTA Tour heads to the Middle East in February for a trio of tournaments, starting with next week’s Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open.
Here’s what you need to know about Abu Dhabi:
When does the tournament start?
The Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open is a WTA 500 event played on outdoor hard courts at the Zayed Sports City International Centre. The tournament features a 28-player singles draw and 16-team doubles draw. The Dunlop Australian Open ball will be used.
Main-draw play begins on Monday, Feb. 5.
Abu Dhabi kicks off the Middle East Swing, which will continue on to back-to-back WTA 1000 tournaments in Doha and Dubai.
When are the finals?
Both finals will be played on Sunday, Feb. 11. The doubles final is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., with the singles final to follow at 5:00 p.m.
Who are the defending champions?
Belinda Bencic is the defending champion, having saved match points to defeat Liudmila Samsonova in the final last year. Bencic is currently on maternity leave.
In doubles, Luisa Stefani and Zhang Shuai defeated Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-Ching 3–6, 6–2, [10–8] to take the title.
Who is playing?
Ten of the WTA’s Top 20 are set to kick off their Middle East swing this week. The draw also features two marquee fan favorites: Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu.
Top eight seeds:
1. Elena Rybakina
2. Ons Jabeur
3. Maria Sakkari
4. Barbora Krejcikova
5. Jelena Ostapenko
6. Beatriz Haddad Maia
7. Daria Kasatkina
8. Liudmila Samsonova
What does the draw look like?
Main draw in Abu Dhabi (WTA 500), where Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur are the top seeds. Naomi Osaka will open against a qualifier. The winner will face Rybakina in 2R. Emma Raducanu will open against Marie Bouzkova. The winner will face Jabeur in 2R. pic.twitter.com/N86ZEfLzAP
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) February 3, 2024
For a full breakdown of the draw, click here.
What are the points and prize money on offer?
First round: 1 point/ $9,820
Round of 16: 60 points/ $13,590
Quarterfinals: 108 points/ $24,910
Semifinals: 195 points/ $51,205
Finalist: 325 points/ $87,665
Champion: 500 points/ $142,000
Rybakina looks to rebound: The top seed looked unbeatable in Australia. Then, riding the momentum of a dominant title run in Brisbane, it all came to a screeching halt in the second round. That match featured the most dramatic moment of the tournament, as Anna Blinkova saved six match points before finally converting her 10th to win the longest tiebreak in Grand Slam history. Considering she dropped just three games to Sabalenka in the Brisbane final, it was a seismic result in Melbourne. And one that Rybakina has hopefully shaken off.
Jabeur comes home: The most decorated tennis player to come out of the region, Ons Jabeur will play her first Middle East swing in two years. Injuries sidelined her in February of last year, but she returns as the No.2 seed. Jabeur is looking to get her legs under her in the new season. After opting to forgo any tournaments before the Australian Open, she was taken out in the second round by Mirra Andreeva.
Osaka and Raducanu back in the spotlight: Both wild card entrants, Osaka and Raducanu showed promising signs of a return to form in Australia. Osaka’s two losses were high-quality affairs, and she came up short in the smallest of margins in two serving duels with Karolina Pliskova (Brisbane) and Caroline Garcia (Melbourne).
But the former No.1 has been adamant about her desire to just get matches and court time as she builds her way back. To that end, she’s teamed with Jabeur for a rare doubles appearance.
Ostapenko’s undeniable top form: Sabalenka, Rybakina, Gauff, and Swiatek may have dominated the headlines in January, but there’s a colorable argument to be made that the hottest player on tour might be Jelena Ostapenko. She has played four events this season and has made either a singles or doubles final in all of them. Having won the singles title in Adelaide, she’s already back in another final in Linz.