Dubai: The Arab world’s best men’s tennis player is drawing confidence from Roger Federer’s longevity and a touch of Dubai for another successful season ahead.
Malek Jaziri, who ended the current season with a career best No. 45 on the ATP Rankings, is presently training in Dubai in preparation for the upcoming season. A guest of Khalaf Al Habtoor, founder and chairman of the Habtoor Group, Jaziri and his team led by coach Christophe Freyss have been in training twice a day alternating between Habtoor City along Shaikh Zayed Road and the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa.
“2018 has been a great year for me, and had I done a few things better then I could have been even in the top-20 at the end of the season,” the self-confessed late bloomer told Gulf News.
“But that said I’ve had my good moments and it is these times that are giving me the motivation and the confidence to look ahead to 2019 in a much smarter way,” the 34-year-old added.
After a slow start to 2018, Jaziri made a huge impact at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship when the 6.1ft player made it to the semi-final of the tournament before losing in straight sets to eventual champion Roberto Bautista Agut. In the quarter-finals he had defeated promising junior Stefanos Tsitsipas after packing off a red-hot Grigor Dmitrov in the first round.
His last tournament was the Rolex ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Paris at the end of October where Jaziri lost in straight sets to American Jack Sock. But earlier during that month the Tunisian had won in three sets against Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who later went on to defeat Federer and Novak Djokovic for his maiden ATP World Tour Finals crown in the season-ender at The O2 Arena.
“My performance in Dubai gave me a lot of confidence that I was able to carry during the season. There was more self-belief and this showed in my results at the later tournaments,” Jaziri pointed out.
The Tunisian ended the 2018 season with a 23-23 win/loss record while winning a little over $887,000 (Dhs 3.24 million) in prize money. His best showing was his loss to Japan’s Taro Daniel in the final of the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open in the first week of May.
“The good thing about me at the moment is that I can see my life more squared now. I find it easier to see where I am headed. And to keep this direction I know that I have to work hard mentally, physically and technically so that I can do even better, especially at the Grand Slams and bigger tournaments on the ATP Tour,” Jaziri related.
“Roger [Federer] is a prime example. At 37, he is playing his best tennis. I am a late bloomer and I think I am pretty much headed the same way. My build-up is ready, confidence-wise and game-wise. Now is the time for me to work on being consistent and the results will automatically follow,” he added.
“I have taken on the best and I am aware what exactly I can do to get better. And that is pretty much going to be the path for me this season.”