Top names for Qatar Open

The Asian Age - - Sport -

Doha, Feb. 10: De­spite the loss of world num­ber one Naomi Osaka through in­jury, six of the women’s top 10 play­ers de­scend on Doha this week for the Qatar Open.

Aus­tralian Open cham­pion — and the sport’s new su­per­star — Osaka with­drew last week due to a back in­jury, leav­ing a big hole to fill for tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers, which they have done with a strong field in­clud­ing three for­mer world num­ber ones.

Si­mona Halep is now the top seed and the Ro­ma­nian will be joined by the Czech Repub­lic’s Karolina Pliskova and Ger­many’s An­gelique Ker­ber as the top seeds.

All three were for­merly at the top of the women’s rank­ings, Halep only be­ing ousted by Osaka last month af­ter Mel­bourne.

Halep, now ranked three in the world, and Ker­ber, sixth, are both Grand Slam win­ners. Pliskova, the world num­ber five, is a for­mer US Open fi­nal­ist.

Ker­ber is the first of these to ar­rive in Doha as she seeks to erase the mem­ory of her crush­ing straights sets fourth round de­feat against Danielle Collins in Aus­tralia. “It’s a tough draw [ in Doha,” Ker­ber said on Sun­day.

“But this is a chal­lenge, and I’m al­ways look­ing for­ward to com­ing here.”

All three top seeds have a good record in Qatar.

Halep and Ker­ber met in the 2014 fi­nal, with the Ro­ma­nian win­ning, and Pliskova won the ti­tle two years ago.

World num­ber seven Elina Svi­tolina of Ukraine — a wild­card re­place­ment for Osaka — is the fourth seed.

Also in Doha from the top 10 will be world num­ber eight Kiki Bertens of the Nether­lands and Den­mark’s Caro­line Woz­ni­acki, ranked tenth.

The top four seeds are ex­pected to be in ac­tion from Tues­day.

Halep and Pliskova could meet in the fi­nal in Doha, just days af­ter the pair were set to meet against each other this week­end in the Fed Cup.

Si­mona Halep

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