Dubai: Crowd favourite Marcos Baghdatis is set to thrill once again when he returns to compete in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships later this month.
The charismatic Cypriot is making his fifth visit to Dubai and will be hoping that the draw will be a little kinder to him than it sometimes has been in the past.
But whoever he draws Baghdatis could pose a serious threat this year. While he currently sits outside the top 10, history has shown that he should never be underestimated as he is adept at winning over crowds and that could lift him enough to cause a major upset.
“The atmosphere is electric whenever Marcos Baghdatis steps on to the court, as the crowd knows that he will never give up a match easily no matter who the opponent,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free.
“He has provided great entertainment here over the years and we are delighted to welcome back to Dubai one of the game’s greatest showmen.”
Baghdatis began the 2013 season strongly by reaching the semi-finals in Brisbane, where he narrowly lost to Grigor Dimitrov in a final set tie-breaker. And he demonstrated his legendary fighting spirit when he won a five-set thriller against Spain’s Albert Ramos in the opening round of the Australian Open.
When he made his Dubai debut in 2007, he came up against Rafael Nadal in his opening match but took the world No 2 to three sets. In 2010 he thrilled his many fans when he went all the way to the semi-finals, where he was beaten in three sets by eventual champion Novak Djokovic.
The next year he was forced to retire from his opening match after losing the first four games to Andrey Golubev, and in 2012 he had the misfortune to be drawn against world No 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round.
Baghdatis will face a strong field as he attempts to repeat his 2010 success, with world No 1 Djokovic seeking to regain the title he won for three straight years from 2009 and defending champion Roger Federer determined to win the event for a sixth time.
Also providing stiff opposition will be 2012 Davis Cup winner Tomas Berdych, another crowd favourite in two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsonga and the ever-dangerous 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro.
The ATP World Tour event takes place between February 25 and March 2 and follows the WTA tournament that features nine of the world’s top 10.
Beginning on February 18, the tournament will feature Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams as well as former Grand Slam winners Petra Kvitova, Li Na, Ana Ivanovic, Samantha Stosur, as well as defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for the event are on sale from the box office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, which is open from 9am to 9pm daily. Grandstand ticket prices range from Dh50 for opening rounds to Dh450 for finals, with season tickets also available.
For more information log on to www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com