'Rain Man' in element over freak weather

Alan Mills, the tournament referee for the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open, spent 23 years incurring the public's wrath as the official who ordered the Wimbledon courts to be covered when the skies over south-west London opened. The "Rain Man", who retired from his post at the All England Club last year, was in his element yesterday as players and spectators spent a frustrating day here dodging the showers.

Just half an hour's play was possible and only one of the quarter-finals started. Amélie Mauresmo and Svetlana Kuznetsova were playing a tie-break at the end of their first set when yet another burst of rain brought a premature end to the action, which had not got under way until late in the afternoon. An indication of how unusual the rain is here for this time of year came earlier in the week, when a day of light drizzle made the front page of Gulf News and brought some roads to a standstill.

The standard of play was what you might have expected from two women who had spent most of the day wondering whether they would ever get on court. The set was littered with unforced errors and Mauresmo had to claw her way back after a poor start which saw her lose the first three games. The Australian Open champion had been two points away from losing the set but led 3-2 in the tie-break when play ended.

Mauresmo is looking to extend her current winning run of 16 matches. She has won both tournaments she has played since Melbourne, beating Mary Pierce and Kim Clijsters in the finals at Paris and Antwerp respectively, and victory in the tournament here would see her reclaim her position as world No 1.

Even if her run ends here, the Frenchwoman looks certain to return to the top of the rankings at some stage over the next month. She moves on to Doha next week, while Clijsters, the current No 1, has pulled out of next month's tournament at Indian Wells through injury. As last year's champion there, the Belgian would have been defending a large number of ranking points.

The field aiming to block Mauresmo's route to her second Dubai title could hardly be stronger. Clijsters is the only woman in the world's top five who is not here and all the leading players, including the resurgent Martina Hingis, have reached the quarter-finals, which includes five former world No 1s.

If Mauresmo beats Kuznetsova, she is likely to face Justine Henin-Hardenne, who was her opponent in the Australian Open final. However, the Belgian is still not fully recovered from the stomach complaint which forced her to retire during the second set of the Melbourne final and faces a tricky opponent in Francesca Schiavone. The Italian pushed Henin-Hardenne all the way in a final in Sydney last month, having led 4-1 in the second set and 5-3 in the third before losing 7-5.

In the other half of the draw, Lindsay Davenport was in formidable form in her first match, beating Elena Likhovtseva 6-0, 6-0, and should have few problems in her quarter-final against Russia's Maria Kirilenko. The winner of their encounter meets either Hingis or Maria Sharapova.

If Hingis builds on the excellent form she showed in beating Anastasia Myskina in the previous round here, the crowd should be in for a treat - weather permitting.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism