Dubai: World number one Andy Murray and 18-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer, who potentially could meet in Friday’s men’s singles semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, will be the stars on the opening day of the ATP 500 tournament on Monday.
Murrary and Federer kick-started the tournament’s silver celebrations by playing a game of beach tennis in front of the iconic Burj Al Arab, the world’s only seven-star hotel.
After being drawn in the same top half of the draw as Murray, Federer, a seven-time winner here, said: “I’m looking forward to playing, especially on the 25th anniversary here in Dubai.
“It’s nice to be part of a tournament celebrating something. I’ve had some great years here in Dubai, and I wanted to be in good shape and ready for the conditions so I came early this year.”
It will be the Swiss great’s first match since he defeated Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final to clinch a record 18th Grand Slam title and his first Slam in five years.
His first opponent in the 64-player draw is Frenchman Benoit Paire who is ranked 41st in the world — a player who has not beaten Federer in three previous meetings. Murray will take on Tunisian Malek Jaziri, a quarterfinalist in Dubai in 2014.
In the lower half of the draw, second seed and defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka will meet Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, a member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Davis Cup team who is currently ranked 79 in the world.
Fourth seed Frenchman Gael Monfils, who returns to the tournament for the first time since 2008. will be up against Mohammad Safwat, one of three players who have received wild cards from Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.
Meanwhile, Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free (DDF), has hailed the contribution made by Dubai to the tennis world as the annual tournament commenced its silver jubilee celebrations.
“We’ve been told that the total worth of this tournament is over $820 million (Dh30 billion) and I doubt there are other things to match this in Dubai,” McLoughlin told media at the official draw ceremony held at The Majlis on Saturday.
“Last year, we had more than 110,000 people watching this tournament and I wish all of them are here during the week so that they can see how they have contributed to the growth of this tournament.”