Wozniacki enjoys fruit of top seeding

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Caroline Wozniacki, the No 1 seed at this week's Barclays Dubai Championships, has discovered the advantages of being a celebrity. "It's easier," last year's beaten US Open finalist said here yesterday. "The other day Arsenal were playing Liverpool and it was sold out. I wanted to go – and it was possible for me to get tickets. It's just great."

Wozniacki, a Liverpool fan, was one of the outstanding players of 2009, winning three titles on the Sony Ericsson tour and reaching the final at Flushing Meadows. She is now at a career-high No 3 in the world rankings, though she owes her top billing here to the withdrawal through injury of Serena Williams and Dinara Safina, the only top 10 players missing.

The traditionally strong field here includes Venus Williams, the defending champion, Elena Dementieva, who won her second title of the year yesterday by beating Lucie Safarova in Paris, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jelena Jankovic and Victoria Azarenka.

Shahar Peer will become the first Israeli woman to compete in the tournament, but her opening match today may be played behind closed doors. Peer, who was refused a visa to play last year in the wake of Israel's military operation in Gaza, is due to face Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer. The match has been scheduled for an outside court, but a security meeting this morning will determine whether anyone will be allowed to watch it.

The Dubai men's tournament, which begins next week, will see Andy Murray make his first appearance since the Australian Open. Murray had been due to play in Marseilles this week but withdrew, saying he wanted more time to recuperate from his exertions Down Under and prepare for the challenges ahead.

Murray's brother, Jamie, will continue his climb back up the world doubles rankings after winning the title at the Bergamo Challenger with Jonny Marray. The Britons beat Karol Beck and Jiri Krkoska 6-1, 6-7, 10-8 in the final.

Britain's Elena Baltacha, already at a career-best No 83 in the world rankings, will also make further progress after winning the biggest tournament of her career last night. The 26-year-old Briton beat the Czech Republic's Lucie Hradecka 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 in the final of a $100,000 (£63,000) event in Midland, Michigan. Baltacha had previously won two $75,000 events, but this was her first win at $100,000 level.

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