Roger Federer is a a seventime champion in Dubai and will be bidding for a record eighth Dubai title in his 14th appearance here. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Roger Federer, a seven-time time champion in Dubai and a holder of 20 grand slam titles, will be back to headline a stellar field announced for the 2019 edition of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, set to take place between February 17 and March 2.

Former world No.1 Andy Murray, who was out of action for a better part of last year after the hip surgery will also return along with world No.1 Simona Halep in a WTA line-up that includes nine of the world’s top-10.

Both the men’s and women’s fields are incredibly strong with a host of current and former champions, young up-andcomers, and new faces to Dubai.

- Colm McLoughlin | CEO of Dubai Duty Free

“We are thrilled to once again welcome the world’s top players to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “Both the men’s and women’s fields are incredibly strong with a host of current and former champions, young up-and-comers, and new faces to Dubai all set for a gripping two weeks of action.”

Tickets for the event go on sale from Thursday (January 10) at 9 am online at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com. Tickets will later be available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office, which will open on January 28.

Former world No.1 Andy Murray, who was out of action for a better part of last year will also return to Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Federer will be bidding for a record eighth Dubai title in what will be a remarkable 14th appearance at the event. He continues to amaze, hitting more career milestones during yet another stunning year - the 2018 season began with him claiming the Australian Open title, which was followed by three more crowns to leave him just one short of the magic one hundred career singles titles.

British three-time Grand Slam winner Murray, who was crowned champion in Dubai in 2017, is on a comeback mission of his own as he continues to make his way up the rankings following hip surgery. The star duo will face fierce competition from the likes of world No.7 Marin Cilic, No.9 Kei Nishikori, No.11 Karen Khachanov, No. 12 Borna Coric and No.15 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

In the women’s category, two-time defending champion and Dubai Duty Free’s WTA ambassador Elina Svitolina will be keen to take her tremendous end-of-season form that saw her clinch the WTA Finals trophy into this year, where she’ll be going for a hat-trick in Dubai. She is one of just three women, alongside Justine Henin and Venus Williams, to successfully defend her title in Dubai.

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia playing against Simona Halep of Romania in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis last year. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archives

“I think I have nothing to prove anymore to anyone. It was definitely a good statement for myself and a good boost,” Svitolina said after her WTA Finals victory in Singapore.

The Ukrainian will have plenty of rivals to contend with, including her fellow Dubai Duty Free WTA ambassadors Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, both of whom have tasted success in the emirate in the past.

Halep ended the season at the summit of the rankings for a second consecutive year thanks to a career-best 2018 that saw her grab a maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. The 27-year-old Romanian, a champion in Dubai in 2015, held onto the No.1 spot throughout the entire season, except for the four weeks in which she was replaced at the top by Wozniacki.

Wozniacki’s long-time quest for a first major also came to fruition last year as the popular Dane triumphed at the Australian Open in January, defeating Halep in the final.

Naomi Osaka, one of the biggest revelations of the 2018 season, is also Dubai-bound with the US Open champion set to make her third consecutive appearance in the UAE. The world No.5 made history in New York last year when she became the first Japanese, female or male, to win a Grand Slam singles title. She did it by defeating her idol Serena Williams in the final.

Other top draws in the women’s field in Dubai include reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber, two-time major winner Petra Kvitova, and young talent Daria Kasatkina, who delighted the UAE crowd last February on her way to the final.

Tournament Director Salah Tahlak said: “We’re delighted with the exceptional line-up of players heading to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in 2019 which is sure to provide world-class action on the courts for two weeks and give every fan the opportunity to see a top player in action on Centre Court.”