Salah Tahlak
Salah Tahlak Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

London: Salah Tahlak, the Dubai Tennis Championships Tournament director, is confident of having at least four of the top 10 men’s singles players for the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open.

Tahlak, who was in London to attend the meeting of ATP tournament directors from around the world, disclosed that Dubai has already been in touch with several of the top marquee tennis players for the past few months now.

“Without naming anyone, negotiations with several of the top players and their agents have been in advanced stages and we are hopeful of confirming names within the next month,” Tahlak told Gulf News.

“This year we had a bit of a glitch getting in some top players due to various reasons, and we don’t want to be committing these same errors in judgement again. We can safely say that we will have at least four of the top 10 in the men’s competition.”

Novak Djokovic_181108
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic has been one of the greats who have featured at the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open in the past, and tournament director Salah Tahlak is hoping to get him and other top players for the 2019 championships in February. Image Credit: AFP

Owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held at the Dubai Tennis Stadium in Al Garhoud, this year’s back-to-back tournaments for the women and men will be held from February 17 to March 2.

With His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as its patron, the tournament was upgraded to a ATP 500-level competition in 2001. In 2005, the Dubai Tennis Championships implemented equal prize money policy becoming only the third professional tennis event to do so after the US Open and Australian Open.

Roger Federer has a record seven titles in Dubai from nine final appearances, while Justine Henin is the most successful woman having won four crowns between 2003 and 2007. Spectator following dropped a bit due to the absence of any big names this year as Roberto Bautista Agut and Elina Svitolina went on to win.

“This year I doubt we will have to worry too much about the players. We have been meeting players and their agents since the US Open and several of the top ones have already given us an indication they will be in Dubai in February,” Tahlak said.

“Most often it is the marquee players with whom we have a bit of a tough time as they are not in a position to confirm. But indications are that we will have a full field within a month.”

Tahlak was also in Milan last week to continue negotiating with some of the Next-Gen players, including eventual champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alex de Minaur, Frances Tiafoe and Andrey Rublev, among others. “The Next-Gen youngsters are such lovely people to deal with and we are confident that we will have a few of them in Dubai next year,” Tahlak said.

“Our final ambition is to have the best possible field of players here, and I can assure you that this will be done.”