All the top-four seeds – Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, Ayrna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova – all got a bye into the second round of the Qatar Total Open 2021 at the end of the draw ceremony held virtually in line with the health and safety measures put in place for the pretigious WTA Premier 5 tournament which begins at the Khaklifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha on Monday.
While the World No. 5 Svitolina will be waiting to take on the winner between China’s Saisai Zheng and Amanda Anisimova for another try for her first title in Doha, 2017 champion Plíšková, on the other hand, will likely face a tough opponent in Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab player in WTA history and the first Arab woman to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament, who will be against a qualifier in her first round match.
For defending champion Sabalenka, her title defence will begin with the winner of the Veronika Kudermetova of Russia versus Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza, the 2018 finalist, match while 2018 champion Kvitova will either face a qualifier or Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for an opportunity to join the elitist group of two-time champions in Doha.
With the look of things, the path to the final match for top-seed Svitolina looks to pass through a semi-final match with either world No. 12 Belinda Bencic or USA’s Madison Keys who is playing for the first time after missing this year’s Australian Open.
“We are delighted with the draw and we look forward to a wonderful week of tennis at this year’s tournament. Despite the glamour and grandeur associated with the Qatar Total Open draw ceremony restricted this year with respect to the safety measures in place, we are happy that everything went well. I wish all the players all the best as they showcase their stuff at the tournament,” Tournament Director Saad Al Mohannadi said.
The WTA Tour event, held since 2001, has grown to become one of the signature events on the WTA Tour calendar and a most sought-after tournament in the region.