Dubai: Defending champion Aslan Karatsev is looking forward to returning this month to the scene of a special moment in his career, where his straight-set victory over Lloyd Harris in the 2021 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final not only gave him his first ATP Tour title, but earned him a place in the world’s top 30 for the first time.
He was the third Russian to reach the final but the first to hoist the prestigious silver dhow trophy. Although Marat Safin was also in the final in 2001 and Mikhail Youzhny twice, in 2007 and 2010, they both failed to win their matches. He was also the first wild card to compete in the Dubai final since Thomas Muster in 1997, and he joined Muster and Wayne Ferreira in 1995 as the only wild cards to win the title.
“Last year was the first time since the ATP 500 series started in 2009 that a wild card and a qualifier were meeting in an ATP 500 final, and the tennis that Aslan Karatsev produced not only in the final, but throughout the week was truly remarkable,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “It was with great pleasure that we saw him go on to enjoy such a successful season.”
Just weeks after his Dubai victory, Karatsev stunned world No 1 Novak Djokovic to reach the final of the Serbia Open in Belgrade, and he later went on to claim his second career title and a place in the Top 20 with a victory over Marin Cilic in Moscow. His rise in the rankings from 112 at the start of 2021 to 15 in November earned him the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year Award.
He also enjoyed success in mixed doubles competition with Elena Vesnina, reaching the final of the French Open and winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He has continued to impress in 2022, defeating Andy Murray in Sydney last month to earn his third singles title.
“There is no doubt that Aslan Karatsev will offer a substantial threat to anyone he plays as he defends his title,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “He has already beaten our top seed and world No 1, Novak Djokovic, and it will be very interesting to see if he can repeat the success that he had here in 2021.”
Tickets for the tennis extravaganza are now on sale at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com. Prices start at Dh55 and are also available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office. Restrictions will apply, with capacity limited to 80 per cent in the stadium.
The tournament begins with the WTA event, which takes place between February 14-19 and features 17 of the world’s top 20 players including defending champion Garbine Muguruza, and former winners Simona Halep, Elena Svitolina, Belinda Bencic and Petra Kvitova. The tournament then continues between February 21-26 with the 30th anniversary of the ATP Tour 500 tournament that includes not only Karatsev and Djokovic but Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner, Denis Shapovalov and former champion Roberto Bautista Agut.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.