February 06, 2023
The stage is set for the opening rounds of the inaugural Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, with the top seeds learning their pathways to potential glory following the official draw event, revealing exciting match-ups for the opening rounds of the first-ever permanent WTA 500 event to be held in Abu Dhabi.
The draw event took place on Saturday night at the Galleria Al Maryah Island with representatives from Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, IMG, WTA, and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic all in attendance with the evening providing an exciting opening ahead of the kick-off to the new event on the WTA calendar, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023. The draw was filled with top 20 players and produced some exciting matchups in the singles category.
Fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko will take on Danielle Collins at the International Tennis Centre’s Stadium Court on Monday evening as both open their campaign in Abu Dhabi. Following this, Tuesday sees a battle between two former World no 1’s, GarbineMuguruza and Karolina Pliskova, as they come face to face in the first round.
Their mammoth tie will be the highlight of day two which also features Ukraine’s MartaKostyuk’s contest against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, while fans can also watch Belgium’s Elise Mertens take on Italy’s Martina Trevisan in the other singles’ matches.
Top seed and World No.8 Daria Kasatkina received a bye into the last-16 stage and could face a challenging last-eight test in the form of either Collins or Ostapenko. Kasatkina could then see a last-four rematch against fourth-seed Veronika Kudermetova, who she beat at last year’s French Open quarter-final.
In the other half of the draw, Australian Open 2023 finalist and reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, seeded third in Abu Dhabi, is another player to receive a bye. She will face a second-round test against the winner of the clash between two-time Grand Slam champion and wildcard Muguruza and Plíškova.
Fans will be treated to not one, but two appearances from World No.9 and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, as she takes to court in both the singles and doubles draw, lining up alongside Mertens in their first-round clash against Poland’s Alicja Rosolska and New Zealand’s Erin Routliffe. On facing a wildcard in the form of Marta Kostyuk or Sorana Cirstea in the second round, Bencic said: “I can’t wait for play to get underway here in Abu Dhabi. It is always exciting to play a new event and this is no exception. I come into the tournament pretty happy with my game and look forward to entertaining the fans in Abu Dhabi and hopefully going a long way in the tournament – it would be very special to be the first name on the trophy.”
Sunday saw the tournament get underway with the singles qualifying rounds. On a day which attracted many fans, Canada’s Leylah Fernandez beat Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets 6-1, 6-2. Stadium Court also saw another straight set victory, as Shelby Rogers claimed a 6-2, 6-3 win against Vera Znovareva.