Halep gets wildcard for Dubai
A stunning four of the world's top five and six of the top 10 will compete in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA event next week after defending champion and world number three Simona Halep, 2015 Dubai finalist Karolina Pliskova and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova accepted wild cards into the tournament.
"We are thrilled that once again so many of the very best players in the world have chosen to compete at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships," said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free.
"Three former Dubai champions will be taking part and four players who are or who have been ranked number one in the world will also participate. We can be certain that every day will provide great entertainment and drama as so many battles for one of the most coveted trophies in the sport. We wish everyone well and look forward to seeing who will emerge as our 2016 champion."
Halep had announced that she would have to miss the event in order to undergo surgery, but the temptation to defend her trophy at one of her favourite stops on the WTA Tour proved too much to resist. Last season was the best of her career as she not only won in Dubai, but also in Shenzhen and Indian Wells, and she finished as runner-up in Toronto where she had to retire due to heat illness, and in Cincinnati. She was also a semi-finalist in Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and at the US Open, and she finished the season as the world number two.
"I learnt how to play without pressure when I have to defend something, to defend points or the title," said Halep, explaining her success. "And I learnt that if I'm relaxed and enjoying what I'm doing, it helps me concentrate better and I can win tough matches."
Pliskova also enjoyed an outstanding season after finishing as runner-up to Halep in Dubai. She was a finalist at four other events and won her fourth career singles title in Prague, and in August she reached a career-high of seven in the rankings. She was also a semi-finalist in Antwerp and Tianjin, and she capped off the year by playing a vital role in the Czech Republic's victory over Russia in the Fed Cup final, earning two of her country's three wins in the five match competition. Last weekend she continued to excel for her country as her three Fed Cup victories against Romania put her nation into the 2016 semi-finals.