Qatar Open could end without winner, admit organisers

Heavy rain could prevent the completion of the tournament as it cannot continue after Sunday, according to the Qatar Tennis Federation.

Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova celebrates her semifinal victory on Friday.   -  AFP

The rain-ravaged Qatar Open could finish without a winner this year, a senior official conceded on Friday as the tournament was again battered by heavy rain and thunderstorms. Tariq Darwish Zainal, secretary general of the Qatar Tennis Federation, said play would not continue after Sunday even if the final matches could not be played.

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The tournament has been hit by huge delays because of the wet weather, some of the worst experienced in Doha for years. Rain has delayed play on every single day, and virtually wiping out all matches on two days. "The WTA gives us one (extra) day, if we don't finish all the matches the tournament finishes without a winner," said Zainal.

He added that in that case, all players would receive points and prize money up to the stage they had reached. The Qatar Open is scheduled to finish on Saturday, but has the option of extending to Sunday. Several of the players, including Karolina Pliskova and Dominika Cibulkova, who were playing against each other in the first semifinal on Friday night, are due to play at the Dubai Tennis Championships next week, where qualification rounds are already underway.

Zainal added that Doha is looking at building a new 12,000-seater stadium, which will include a roof. This could be ready by 2021, he said.

Rain-soaked Friday

Friday was yet another rain-soaked day as play was halted on several occasions, including an almost five-hour break as thunder and lightning hit the Qatari capital. However, the rain eventually receded at around 7:30pm (1630 GMT) local time. By late evening, Monica Puig, Caroline Wozniacki, Pliskova and Cibulkova had all qualified for the semifinals.

Puerto Rico's Puig, the Olympic champion, finally beat Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. She will play Wozniacki who beat American qualifier Lauren Davis, 7-5 6-1. Pliskova made short work of China's Zhang Shuai, winning 6-2, 6-0 to set up a showdown with Cibulkova.

Organisers hope to finish both matches by Friday night, meaning Puig, Wozniacki and Pliskova will have played twice in one day. However, further bad weather is forecast for Saturday.

Results

Semifinals

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x2) bt Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x3) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

Quarterfinals

Monica Puig (PUR) bt Darya Kasatkina (RUS) 4-6, 7-5, 6-4

Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) bt Lauren Davis (USA) 7-5, 6-1

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x2) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2, 6-0.