By Mai Akkad
Competitors gathered for the 2013 Qatar Total Open, which kicks off this afternoon, say they are looking forward to battling it out at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex.
Tickets are still available online and at City Center, Lagoona and Landmark malls, as well as at the tennis complex. The tournament runs from Feb. 11 to Feb. 17.
The competition is likely to be fierce among world top three players Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, who will be competing to gain the ranking of number one.
American star Williams acknowledged to reporters in Doha today that she is still working through a back and ankle injury sustained during the Australian Open last month.
“I’m feeling a little better. You know, just taking it one day at a time, basically,” she said. “So I will see how I feel after my first match.”
Two-time Doha champion Maria Sharapova said she is happy to be back in Doha. “It’s always good to come back to a court where you’ve played well and had good results,” said the Russian four-time Grand Slam champion.
Defending champion Victoria Azarenka said she knew keeping her reign wouldn’t be easy. “I always love coming back here. It’s a great event and always a very tough field,” said the Belarusian and reigning Australian Open champion.
In addition to the matches, spectators can also frequent the Public Village throughout the tournament. Among its features:
- A traditional souq area;
- An animation game in which participants perform their best tennis serves to win gifts and tickets to the finals;
- A booth where WTA stars will sign autographs daily after the matches; and
- A kids zone, which will include face-painting, arts and crafts and an obstacle course.
VIP ticket-holders will have access to the VIP Village, where they can mingle with players, sponsors and other VIP guests.
For those who can’t make it to the games, various Al Jazeera sports channels will be airing the matches in English and Arabic.
Credit: Top photo by Mai Akkad; players’ photos by Mohamed Elzwawy