Top seeds ready for Qatar Open
Henin, Kuznetsova, Hingis and Jankovic are in Doha for the Qatar Total Open.
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2007 15:05 GMT

Henin, fresh from her win in Dubai, looks to make it two tournaments in two weeks in Doha [ALJAZEERA]

The second leg of the women's tennis Middle Eastern swing takes place this week as the Sony Ericsson WTA tour moves west from Duabi to Doha for the Qatar Total Open, with a new prize money purse of $1.34 million sure to motivate players to bring out their best.
Four top-ten players, Justine Henin, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Martina Hingis and Jelena Jankovic, are in the Doha draw, and all are at different stages of their careers as they battle injuries, comebacks, and off-court dramas.

World number two Henin continues her comeback to tennis after her marriage break-up caused her to miss early season tournaments including the Australian Open, with her win in the Dubai Women's Open last week quickly getting her back on track.

"It's been a great week for me," Henin told a press conference shortly after arriving in Doha on Monday.

"I played good tennis on Saturday in the final, and it's great to be back at a good level.

"I'm happy to be here in Doha.

"It's only my second time here, but it's a tournament I really liked a few years ago, and it's a good feeling to be back," added the 24 year-old who reached the Doha semi-finals in 2004.

Henin defeated world number three Amelie Mauresmo 6-4, 7-5 in the Dubai final to maintain her undefeated record at the United Arab Emirates tournament, after also winning there in 2003, 2004 and 2006,

"I'm close to my best level with my attitude, and the way I kept fighting," added the Belgian in reference to the close match with Mauresmo.

Russian roulette

Henin defeated world number five Kuznetsova in the semi-finals in Dubai, but the Russian plans to gain revenge at her fourth Doha appearance after reaching the final here in 2004.

"I enjoy playing in Doha and Dubai, I had a close match with Justine, and I'm looking forward to this week.

"I feel very good, and as the tournament goes on I hope I'll feel even better."

Kuznetsova has history on her side in Qatar, as Russians have won the past four tournaments here, with Anastasia Myskina victorious in 2003 and 2004, Maria Sharapova in 2005 and Nadia Petrova the champion last year.

"It's true, Anastasia, Maria and Nadia have won here, so it would be special if I could also win here," said the 21 year-old.

Inaugural champion

Martina Hingis hopes to add another Qatar
championship to her 2001 title [ALJAZEERA]

World number six Martina Hingis was the inaugural champion in Doha, winning the 2001 Qatar Open, and felt in good form a year after making her comeback from a three year break.

"I'm feeling more confident and more self-assured," said Hingis, who said she had matured on and off the court.

"It's great, all the memories come back and I enjoy it in a different way, because I don't feel as much pressure as when I was younger, it's different. 

"I'm experiencing it all over again."

Hingis was knocked out in the quarter finals in Dubai by world number eleven Jelena Jankovic, with the Serb then retiring from her semi-final against Mauresmo, succumbing to an ankle injury at the end of the first set.

"Unfortunately in Dubai in the semi-final I twisted my ankle," explained Jankovic, who turns 22 on Wednesday.

"Now it's a little bit swollen and painful, but hopefully I can get ready and play here.

"I had a lot of therapy and treatment and tomorrow I'll see how it feels."

Great start

Jelena Jankovic is in top form, but may be
troubled by an ankle injury [ALJAZEERA]
Jankovic has had a great start to the year after winning in Auckland, getting to the final in Sydney and reaching the quarters of the Australian Open, and she'll be looking to keep that form going in Doha.

"I had a good beginning of the year, I played a lot of matches and did quite well."

The top four seeds all have a bye in the first round in Qatar, giving Jankovic's ankle a few more days to recover, and Henin time for her first tournament win of the season to sink in.

The winner of the Qatar Total Open will pocket $222,000 in prize money, with the runner-up receiving $117,000.

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