Things are heating up on the WTA Tour with the Dubai Tennis Championships getting underway this week and marking the start of the spring hard-court campaign.
Key events in Indian Wells and Miami are also not far away and, in Dubai, 18 of the WTA Tour's top 20 players are set to be involved.
Last year's tournament in Dubai was won by Jelena Ostapenko but the Latvian ace faces plenty of competition as she looks to defend her title.
|What||WTA Dubai Tennis Championships|
|Where||Aviation Club Tennis Centre|
|When||Sunday 19th February - Saturday 25th February|
|How to watch||Amazon Prime|
It looks like a star-studded draw in Dubai and the field is headlined by none other than Polish sensation Iga Swiatek.
Swiatek has already been busy this month, having beaten American Jessica Pegula in the final of the Qatar Open on Saturday, and she unsurprisingly takes the top seed in Dubai.
That said, Swiatek failed to impress at the Australian Open this year, crashing out in the fourth round against eventual runner-up Elena Rybakina, and she failed to make it beyond the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships in 2022.
It is fair to say the hard courts are not Swiatek's favourite and the 21-year-old, who is a 10/11 shot to win the French Open later this year and 9/2 to win Wimbledon, may not have things all her own way at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre.
One player sure to attract plenty of attention in Dubai is Aryna Sabalenka, who is fresh from winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the start of the year.
Sabalenka won six of her seven matches at the Australian Open in straight sets and, having also won the Adelaide International beforehand, she has been a real force on the hard courts this campaign.
Sabalenka has never before gone beyond the quarter-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships but the good news for the hard-hitting 24-year-old is that, as second seed, she cannot face top seed Swiatek until the final and finds herself in a softer quarter with Daria Kasatkina.
Following her triumph Down Under at the start of the year, Sabalenka is 16/1 to win the French Open and can be backed at 8/1 to win Wimbledon. She is 1/4, however, to not win another Grand Slam in 2023.
Seeded eighth, Swiss star Belinda Bencic could also be dangerous in Dubai, having shown on more than one occasion that she loves to play in this part of the world.
Earlier this month Bencic came out on top at the Abu Dhabi Open, defeating Liudmila Samsonova in the final, but she had to withdraw from the subsequent Qatar Open before the quarter-finals due to fatigue.
Her fitness will be of concern going into this tournament but, if she comes out firing, she could be another tough player to stop.
Elena Rybakina, meanwhile, will be looking to build on her strong start to 2023, having made the final of the Australian Open in January.
Rybakina is 6/1 to defend her Wimbledon title later this year but has also looked handy on the hard courts, following her impressive Melbourne campaign with a run to the last eight in Abu Dhabi.
Veronika Kudermetova may not be the biggest name taking to the courts in Dubai this week but she will certainly feel she can throw her name into the mix for glory.
The 25-year-old has just the one singles title to her name on the WTA Tour but continues to show signs of improvement and already this year she has made the quarter-finals of the Abu Dhabi Open and the last four of the Qatar Open.
Her campaign in Qatar was brought to an abrupt end by Swiatek, who defeated her 6-0 6-1, but Kudermetova has nonetheless demonstrated that she can perform in such conditions.
Last year she finished runner-up to Ostapenko in the Dubai Tennis Championships and, although she finds herself in the tougher half of the draw, Kudermetova could well go deep again.