Defending Champion and Dubai Duty Free Ambassador Elina Svitolina has had a successful run in the city already.
Even before winning against Tunisian star Ons Jabeur at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (DDFTC), the 24-year-old appeared to have her sailor’s cap firmly in place as she boarded the Queen Elizabeth 2, docked at Mina Port Rashid.
The Ukrainian tennis star posed for photos with her trophy and visited the on-board Dubai Duty Free shop where she was welcomed by staff who helped Svitolina pick out a few gifts for her friends and family.
The QE2 Dubai Duty Free shop offers international visitors a chance to shop on board and have their tax free goods waiting for them at the airport on their return.
On board, Svitolina also met Sergii Melnykov, chief officer of Maritime Related Function of the QE2.
“It was amazing because we met him in the elevator when we were going there. He told me that he’s a big fan of mine. His daughter also. They know my grandmother. I was shocked because they’re from the same city,” said Svitolina. “I know the city is not that big, but he knows my grandmother. He told me also, like, some facts about that boat because he worked there.”
Svitolina has already started her bid to make tournament history — following three consecutive wins — and was given a helping hand when Jabeur was forced to retire during their second round match.
Sixth seeded Svitolina had struggled to gain the upper hand against a determined opponent in the match on February 19, but towards the end of the opening set, Jabeur received lengthy treatment for a right shoulder injury. The match then no longer became a contest and Svitolina progressed 7-6 4-0.
Svitolina then acknowledged that she has extra incentive to succeed this week as she attempts to become the first WTA player to win the tournament for three consecutive years.
“Well, this is a big motivation for me here,” she said. “I didn’t really feel like in a match mood. I don’t know why. Was a bit struggling. [But] when I was 0-2 down, I told myself, ‘C’mon, you are here to make history of the tournament’.”
Tickets to the DDFTC are available on dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com and from the Stadium Box Office which is open daily from 9am to 9pm.