salah tahlak
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak and Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO DDF, at the tennis championships draw ceremony. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: The Dubai Tennis Championships have the habit of raising the bar every year, on and off it, but this 23rd edition is going to be totally different experience as the star-studded field boasts of a similar quality to that of a Grand Slam, feels the tournament director Salah Tahlak.

The tournament director of Dubai Tennis championships, says: “It is our 23rd edition and this is the best ever we had in the last five years to six years. Seventeen of the top 20 are among the 64-player field, which is as good as a Grand Slam,” said a proud Tahlak, who will be serving the tournament as the Tournament Director for the 20th year.

Equal prize money

“We have four past winners, which adds a lot to the tournament and you can see how strong is the field and how strong is the draw.”

Dubai women’s championships was one of the first in the world and first in the region to offer equal prize money to both the men and the women’s champions. World No 1 Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, who won her maiden Australian Open last month leads the field, Victoria Azarenka, Elena Rybakina and defending champion Jelena Ostapenko are among some of the top names in the field, which excites Tahlak.

“I feel so excited. I have been involved from day one and I have been associated for 20 years as the tournament director. I am looking forward to it to make it happen,” he added.

Supporting Turkey

Oz Ipek has given a wild card in the draw as a mark of support to Turkey, where 39,672 people had died after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked southeastern Turkey and northern Syria, the deadliest natural disaster in the region in centuries, on February 6. The 196th-ranked Ipek will face Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in the opener.

“Dubai and the UAE always support other countries, and we hope Ipek’s place in the draw offers much-needed moral support to everyone in Turkey following the tragic circumstances affecting the country and its people,” said Tahlak.

Dubai is known to innovate every year and this year’s novelty will be a live telecast from a drone above from the skies.

“We have done a few cosmetic changes to the tournament this year. First time telecast will done live from a drone during the semi-finals and final. A different view from all around the world,” Tahlak added.