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Friday, August 14, 2020

Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge: 20th Anniversary

by Joanna Andrews

(L-R)Roberta Calarese Gulfar - TE Board Member, Dalma Galfi (HUNG), Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum, Khalaf Al Habtoor, Patty Schnyder (SUI), Ayumi Morita (JPN), Cornelia Lister (SWE), Ahmed Ahli, VP Tennis Emirates
(L-R) Lidziya Marozava (BLR), Lesley Kerkhove (NED), Khalaf Al Habtoor, Alena Fomina (RUS), Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU)
Double Winners
Lidziya Marozava (BLR)
Singles Winner: Belinda Bencic (SUI)
The group photo is winners of the Al Habtoor Tennis Tournament
Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO)
Belinda Bencic (SUI) and Sara Errani (ITA)
Lesley Kerkhove (NED)
Alena Fomina (RUS)
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU)
Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with TV Comentator Khalid Al Ali
Alena Fomina (RUS)
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU)
Sara Errani (ITA)
(L-R) Sultan Al Habtoor, Khalaf Al Habtoor and Sheikh Hasher Al Maktum
Tournament Line Umpires and Officials
Kyra Nagy Tournament Director with Hany El Khafief Tournament Referee

The Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge (AHTC), now in its 20th year, was a resounding success. The women’s only event, which took place at the Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection was won by Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, a former world number 7. Joanna Andrews has the highlights.

Belinda Bencic defeated Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in an exciting singles final. The 20-year-old Swiss claimed victory in the $100,000 Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge on Saturday 16 December 2017 after winning 6-4 in 47 minutes before Tomljanovic pulled out due to an injury.

Earlier in the tournament Bencic defeated 2016 Dubai Women’s Open Champion Sara Errani in the semi-final in straight sets. Errani was a former world number 5.

Al Habtoor Group Founding Chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor, who started the AHTC 20 years ago, was joined by HH Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum, President, Tennis Emirates, to present the trophies to the finalists.

At a press conference and draw ahead of the tournament HH Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum. Sheikh Hasher said, “Khalaf [Al Habtoor] was the first pioneer in this part of the world to start a ladies’ championship. Many of the world’s top female players started playing on his court in this tournament.” He added, “We are all thankful to him. No one encouraged him to do it. In fact, he encouraged us.”

Al Habtoor said, “I am very proud that we are in our 20th year. The ground of these courts provides women players with great opportunities. A lot of the girls that played in this tournament ranked among the top ten.”

Under the slogan ‘Brings to Dubai today, the stars of tomorrow’, the tournament has seen many players whom became no. 1 in the world such as Simona Halep, Agneiszka Radwanska, Jelena Jankovic and Karolina Pliskova, in addition to other top players such as Marion Bartoli, Maria Krilinko, Sania Mirza and many other top 10 players participate.

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