Dubai: Dubai Duty Free, organisers and owners of the Dubai Tennis Championships have announced that the annual two-week event will be held with limited spectator presence from March 7-20.
The organisers have formed a Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Tournament Committee, headed by Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Dubai Duty Free and the committee has been working closely with the Dubai Sports Council, the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management of the UAE and the Dubai Health Authority in order to obtain approvals to host the event in line with the highest possible Covid-19 safety measures, according to an official press release.
“Despite the pandemic, the annual event will welcome limited fans to see the stars in action. However, in order to comply with Covid-19 guidelines and to ensure the well-being of players, officials and fans of the tournament, the stadium will have limited capacity in line with Covid-19 rules and regulations,” the press release said.
The tournament – that was initially scheduled to be held from February 14-27 - will now begin with the WTA 1000 competition from March 7 to 13 featuring a field of 56 players followed by the ATP 500 tournament from March 14 to 20. And as an added bonus, the ATP singles draw has been increased to 48 players.
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “We are delighted to once again stage one of the key sporting events on the Dubai calendar, particularly as we mark the 21st running of the WTA week and the 29th year of the ATP tournament, both of which have garnered numerous awards over the years.
“In that time, nearly every top player has at some stage in their career competed for one of the most sought-after trophies in the sport, and we look forward to welcoming many of the current stars for what is certain to be another two weeks of fierce competition.”
Commenting on the restrictions in place in terms of stadium capacity, Tournament Director, Salah Tahlak, noted: “We are looking forward to running another successful Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and while we have previously had many matches played in front of a capacity crowd, our spectator numbers this year will be restricted in line with Covid-19 rules and regulations. We will shortly announce information regarding this and it is worth remembering that the tennis action will be shown live, from first ball to last, on Dubai Sports Channel and will be seen around the world.”
Romania’s world No. 2 Simona Halep – who downed top-ranked Ashleigh Barty 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 at Adelaide’s Memorial Drive in an exhibition event on Friday night ahead of next week’s Australian Open – had battled over three sets to defeat Elena Rybakina to win her second title in Dubai last year. The men’s title had been won by world No.1 Novak Djokovic as he went on to clinch his fifth Dubai honour crown and his first since 2013 while overcoming Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“We thank all of the Government bodies of the UAE for their ongoing support of this tournament,” Cidambi said. “A great deal is going on behind the scenes in order to stage a tournament that ensures the safety and well-being of players, officials, support teams and fans. We are following the guidelines of the UAE authorities, as well as the WTA and ATP, to be fully prepared for another world-class event in Dubai.”