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Roberto Bautista Agut Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Roberto Bautista Agut, whose career took a quantum leap since the Spaniard won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships crown in 2018, wants to reclaim the crown this year.

When he lifted the trophy, at 23 he was the lowest-ranked player to claim the title since 26th ranked Fabrice Santoro in 2002. He has since become a member of the world’s top 10 and last season saw him produce several career firsts. He advanced to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas and then he went one round better at Wimbledon, reaching his first Grand Slam semis before losing to eventual champion and world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

Right at the start of last season, he had defeated Djokovic en route to his ninth ATP Tour title at Doha, and he went on to defeat Djokovic again to reach the ATP Masters 1000 Miami quarter-finals. He also reached the ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finals at Montreal and Cincinnati before capping it off by helping Spain clinch victory in November’s Davis Cup final.

His performance there in Madrid was remarkable, as his father passed away on the eve of the tournament. Despite such a tragic event, Bautista Agut managed to win two of his three matches and his fortitude drew high praise from fellow team member Rafael Nadal, who said, “The person who has been vital (in the team victory) has been Roberto Bautista. He is an example for the rest of my life.”

The new season has also begun brilliantly as he didn’t drop a set in all six matches he played as he helped Spain to the final at the inaugural ATP Cup, even winning his opening match of the season 6-0, 6-0. Although he fell in the third round of the Australian Open, he battled Marin Cilic for four hours and 10 minutes before conceding the match 6-3 in the fifth set.

“We very much enjoyed witnessing Roberto Bautista Agut’s run to the title two years ago, as he added his name to the list of other prominent champions from Spain, Alex Corretja, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Rafael Nadal,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Dubai Duty Free. “His form since then has been outstanding, especially in recent months, and we look forward to seeing how he progresses in 2020, both here in Dubai and throughout the rest of the season.”

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships begins with the 20th Anniversary celebrations of the WTA event, which runs from February 17-22, followed by the ATP tournament from February 24-29.

Tickets for the tournament are available at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.