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Sport Tennis

Dubai Duty Free tennis: Novak Djokovic heads strong men’s field on 30th anniversary

2021 champion Karatsev, Rublev and Shapovalov add depth to the competition



Novak Djokovic with the winner's trophy at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in 2020.
Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: World No.1 Novak Djokovic will head a competitive line-up of men’s tennis next month when the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (DDFTC) men’s tournament celebrates its 30th anniversary from February 21-26. The WTA week precedes the men’s event from February 14-19.

Among those joining the five-time Dubai champion Serbian will be a further eight members of the top 20, presenting an intriguing mix of exciting young talent and experienced veterans, including Dubai 2021 champion Aslan Karatsev, 2021 semi-finalists Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov and former champion Roberto Bautista Agut.

“We are thrilled to welcome so many top players to our 30th year celebrations of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We are delighted to see Novak back in Dubai for the 12th time when he will be seeking his sixth title and we wish him the best of luck.” Djokovic’s tally of five titles in the second highest in Dubai, only Roger Federer bettering him with eight times.

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Karatsev has continued to impress following his remarkable run in Dubai, a week that saw him defeat Lloyd Harris to claim the first ATP title of his career. He went on to defeat Djokovic to reach the final in Belgrade, which he surrendered to Matteo Berrettini in a final set tiebreak. Later in 2021 he earned a second career title with victory over Marin Cilic in Moscow and he began the 2022 season by beating Andy Murray in the Sydney final to win title number three.

Rublev will be among those who, along with Djokovic and Karatsev, will also be a strong contender for the title. Although he fell last year in a thrilling semi-final to fellow Russian and eventual champion Aslan Karatsev, he enjoyed a successful season. After being a member of the victorious Russian team that won the ATP Cup and then claiming the Rotterdam title shortly before arriving in Dubai, he went on to finish as runner-up in Monte Carlo where he earned a rare clay court victory over Rafael Nadal. His 2021 season then finished on a triumphant note as his four wins in five matches guided Russia to victory in the Davis Cup.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner in fray

Among others to watch are another Canadian, current world number nine Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and the unpredictable and often brilliant Gael Monfils. Auger-Aliassime will be making his Dubai debut after beginning 2022 by entering the world’s top 10 for the first time after his success with compatriot Shapovalov in winning the ATP Cup, while also reaching the semi-finals of the US Open and the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

“We can once more look forward to two weeks of fantastic tennis as we not only enjoy the 30th year celebrations of the ATP Tour event, but an incredible line-up of talent in the preceding WTA 500 tournament that features nine of the world’s top 10 and 17 of the top 20 women players, including no less than five previous Dubai winners all returning to one of their favourite tournaments,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.

Tickets for the tennis extravaganza are on sale online on January 27 at 9:00am at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com. Prices start at AED 55, and tickets will also be available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office from February 8.