Dubai: Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director of the annual Dubai Tennis Championships, has assured everyone’s prayers while wishing world number one Novak Djokovic and the other corona positive players a speedy recovery.
The tennis world was rattled late on Tuesday with Djokovic among the latest to test positive for the coronavirus - joining others such as Dubai regulars Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki after being involved in Djokovic’s Adria Tour.
Dubai was Djokovic’s last event as he went on to get past Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas before a jam-packed Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and win his fifth title here on February 29. It proved to be the last event as the ATP and WTA tours shut down following the coronavirus pandemic.
“Novak is a true champion on and off the court and I am sure that the prayers and good wishes of all tennis-loving people from the UAE are with him and his wife Jelena right now,” Tahlak told Gulf News on Wednesday.
“While we are naturally concerned that quite a few of our regular players are also among those who have been infected with corona, we are confident that all of them will get past this hurdle, just like they’ve been used to doing in their lives as professional tennis players,” he added.
Djokovic became the Dubai Open champion for the fifth time at the end of February. Winner of the Dubai title in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, the Serbian joined eight-time champion Roger Federer for having the most consecutive titles (three) here.
“Novak has too many fans here in the UAE, and everyone is aware of his gluten-free lifestyle that has helped him achieve so much in his sport. I am sure he will now know the things he has to do to stay safe,” Tahlak hoped.
“We have been in touch and I am convinced that he will be back to defend his crown here next year. That’s the assurance we can give at this moment while keeping him and all the rest in our prayers and good wishes,” he added.
First held in 1993, the Dubai Tennis Championships was among the early tournaments to implement equal prize money policy as it became only the third professional tennis event to do so after the US Open and the Australian Open. In 2001, the ATP upgraded the tournament from a 250 level to a more prestigious 500 level tournament that over the years has won several accolades of being voted the best tournament in that level by the players.
Next season’s two-week Dubai Tennis Championships has been slotted to be held from February 14-27.