Doha: Minds Blown. The Player’s Gala Dinner.

The Qatar Total Open 2016 Player’s Gala Dinner was another elaborate extravaganza where no expense was spared. Magician Jamie Raven headlined the night, delivering some mind-blowing slight of hand with the assistance of Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep. He even capped the night by levitating one of the guests right in front of the VIP table.

The celebration began with opening remarks from Qatar Tennis Federation’s Higher Organizing Committee Chairman, Nassar bin Ghanim Al-Khelaifi. Guillaume Chalmin, Managing Director of Total E&P Qatar, then presented gifts to the top-4 players in the draw: Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber. By the way, tomorrow morning Agnieszka will overtake Simona as the World #3…

During the meal, “Fireflies” performed what could only be described as a SHADOW SHOW, while Ouka performed a blend of juggling and choreography. After Jamie Raven made our heads explode, I took to the stage for three quick trivia questions. Let’s see if you can answer them correctly:
[divider style=”solid”]

  • Who currently holds the fastest serve in women’s tennis?
    A. Venus Williams
    B. Serena Williams
    C. Sabine Lisicki

Congrats to Lesia Tsurenko, who answered correctly. She scored an iPhone from the Qatar Tennis Federation. Well done. (C)
[divider style=”solid”]

  • Which two players have won the Qatar Total Open consecutively?
    A. Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova
    B. Anastasia Myskina and Victoria Azarenka
    C. Maria Sharapova and Anastasia Myskina

TRUTH: All three options are technically correct. Myskina won back-to-back titles in ’03 and ’04. Vika won in ’12 and ’13. Maria personally won consecutive titles here in ’05 then ’08 – she was absent from the draw for two years. (B)
[divider style=”solid”]

  • Finally – in the 1980’s, which tennis player won the fastest Grand Slam Final in 34-minutes?
    A. Steffi Graf
    B. Chris Evert
    C. Martina Navratilova

Andrea Hlavackova got in on the winning with this one, picking up an iPhone as well. (A)
[divider style=”solid”]
Sadly, not everyone could make it to the dinner tonight. Genie Bouchard was busy battling Anastasija Sevastova. Bouchard would eventually win it in a third-set tie-break. Andrea Petkovic following with a routine, 4th-career win over Ekaterina Makarova. MORE ON MONDAY’S PLAY HERE.

Thee WTA has hosted 10 events since the start of the season. After a pair of Italian victories in Dubai and Rio over the weekend, we’ve now had 10 different champions. Angelique Kerber is the only player who has reached more than one final…

  • Brisbane: Victoria Azarenka def. Angelique Kerber
  • Schenzhen: Agnieszka Radwanska def. Alison Riske
  • Auckland: Sloane Stephens def. Julia Georges
  • Sydney: Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Monica Puig
  • Hobart: Alize Cornet def. Genie Bouchard
  • Australian Open: Angelique Kerber def. Serena Williams
  • St. Petersburg: Roberta Vinci def. Belinda Bencic
  • Taiwan: Venus Williams def. Misaki Doi
  • Dubai: Sara Errani def. Barbora Strycova
  • Rio: Francesca Schiavone def. Shelby Rogers

Knowing this…it should be another remarkably unpredictable week both here in Doha and in Acapulco.