Ace Women!

With the tennis coming up, which female stars should we be watching?
Tuesday , 19 February 2008
Ace Women!

Seventeen of the world's very best tennis players are about to battle it out for the $3 million prize, here in Dubai! Of course, we'll be cheering on the lads, but we can't help but feel a little favouritism for our fellow ladies!

Clark Frances - head of Clark Frances Tennis Coaching spoke to our pals at Time Outthis week, on which females we should be watching when the tennis hits town!

Justine Henin
World ranking: 1

If she brings her A game she's as difficult as anyone to beat here as she's proven by doing it several times. But she hasn't been at the top of her game for a while now. Despite that, Justine would be favourite if Sharapova wasn't playing quite so awesomely.

She has the perfect game for here and if Justine is on her game then no one can beat her on any surface. She has an all-round game and she's without doubt the world's best volleyer, but that's not essentially a plus point playing here as, historically, the courts play very slow. She's almost guaranteed a semi-final place.

Svetlana Kuznetsova
World ranking: 2

She's not as consistent as she'd like to be if you look at her results. Historically, she's never done fantastically well over here. She'll be well used to the conditions here as she practices in Spain so the temperature will be the same. She's very strong on clay, as she proved in the French Open last year, and she trains a lot on clay courts so I wouldn't say that the hard courts of Dubai are going to favour her too much.

Some people are great on grass, some on clay and some on hard courts and a lot of it is down to footwork. All the top women players have great footwork but on a hard court, the players are in the air when they hit the ball and they use a one-step recovery making it a different way of moving to clay, where you slide in to hit the ball.

Ana Ivanovic
World ranking: 3

She's playing very well having come out of the final of the Australian Open recently. Sharapova played exactly the same game as her in that match but she executed her plan better than Ana and went on to win that match. She'd certainly be one for the semi-finals as she's playing on her preferred surface. I'm not sure why Serbia have produced so many good tennis players recently, it's like asking why Britain haven't produced a world beater. But they have a lot of strength at the moment.

Maria Sharapova
World ranking: 5

She's certainly my tip for the tournament - she's playing as well as anyone else in the world at the moment. It's not a surface that you need to serve and volley on so she'll be well served by that. She's been focussing a lot more recently - she's always had the skill - and she's absolutely in the zone.

Personally, I think her greatest strength is that she really attacks the second phase ball so that you've got no time to think. She's also very tenacious and plays every point as if it's the last point. She's very strong mentally and physically magnificent - she's well over six foot tall so she gets a lot of power in her serves and shots.

Serena Williams
World ranking: 7

Serena loves it here but I'm not so sure that she loves the tennis as much as she loves the shopping - which I'm sure if you asked her honestly, she'd answer the same. She's not done well here in the past, but she's a very powerful hitter so she can overpower a lot of the other players. It really depends on where her focus is for the match.

Clark's tip:Sharapova all the way, with her beating Ivanovic in the final.

Tennis bats its way into Dubai on February 25th. Get your tickets at www.timeouttickets.com

By Becky Lucas