Things to know about Qatar Open

February 11, 2014 - 12:46:19 am
What historic milestone is Li Na just a week away from achieving? Who are the three wildcards? Do you like trivia? Here’s everything you need to know for this week’s Qatar Total Open in Doha!

n Seven Top 10 players are in Doha.  Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep are all at the Qatar Total Open, the only three players missing being Serena Williams (back injury), Victoria Azarenka (foot injury) and Maria Sharapova (an on-air correspondent for NBC at the Winter Olympics - see what she’s been up to here).

n  Li Na is going to become No.2 in a week.  Regardless of how she does in Doha this week, by virtue of Victoria Azarenka not being able to defend her champion’s points and because Li wasn’t even able to play here last year, Li will go from No.3 to No.2 in the world on Monday, February 17, raising the bar on her own record of No.3 for highest-ranked Asian player, male or female, in tennis history.

n Serena Williams may not be here, but Venus Williams is.  The first Williams sister to get to No.1 - and a seven-time Grand Slam champion herself - will be playing for the first time since Australia, where she reached the final of Auckland but ended up falling first round at the Australian Open. She has fantastic memories from Doha - she won the WTA Championships here in Doha in 2008.

n Jelena Jankovic could get her 500th WTA main draw-level match win here. The former No.1 currently has 536 overall match wins but 499 at the WTA main draw-level - she has a first round bye.

n A little bit about the three wildcards. The best-known of the three wildcards this week is Alisa Kleybanova, a former Top 20 player who is working her way back up the rankings after overcoming Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The other two are Turkish No.1 Cagla Buyukakcay, who is playing her first main draw at a Premier-level event, and Fatma Al Nabhani, who is Oman’s only ranked player.

n Toughest first round match - Eugenie Bouchard against Bethanie Mattek-Sands. There are a lot of tough first round draws - Ana Ivanovic against Daniela Hantuchova, Carla Suárez Navarro against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - but in her only lead-up event before her magical Australian Open run, Bouchard lost to Mattek-Sands in Sydney, making that one perhaps the most