With just under two weeks to go until Dubai’s annual tennis extravaganza gets underway, fans can look forward to unprecedented excitement as results from the Australian Open have demonstrated that the biggest names in the game cannot be assured of victory when play begins on 15th February.
Tensions will be high as not even top Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title contenders such as Roger Federer, and Venus Williams are immune from upsets. One of the biggest surprises in Melbourne came when reigning Dubai champion Federer was upset in the third round by Andreas Seppi, with the Italian hoping he can draw the Swiss maestro once again when both compete in Dubai. And defending champion Venus Williams will be motivated more than ever to bounce back and retain her title after she was bundled out at in the quarter-finals by unseeded Madison Keys.
While those two champions will be under pressure to get back on track, several unfamiliar names have proved that they could spring a surprise and be serious title chasers themselves. At the forefront will be Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova, who followed up her 2014 US Open semi-final appearance by reaching the same stage at the Australian Open with a stunning victory over Simona Halep. And exciting young newcomer Nick Kyrgios had the whole of Australia urging him on after he overcame huge-serving Ivo Karlovic and then Federer’s conqueror Seppi before eventually bowing out to Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.
Tomas Berdych reached the final in Dubai in both 2013 and 2014 and showed that he could well go one stage further this year and lift the title after a brilliant run in Melbourne that saw him overturn Rafael Nadal in straight sets, only to fall to another top Dubai contender, Andy Murray, in the semi-finals.
While established names are fighting to hold off pretenders to their title on the court, tennis fans will enjoy a full schedule of entertainment on offer in the Tennis Village, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in Garhoud will be the place to be for an action-packed fortnight.
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak is delighted with the line up of players competing in Dubai this year. “We have again attracted some amazing players, with the likes of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, and Australian Open Champion Serena Williams and Venus Williams guaranteeing a very tough competition” he said.
“With 8 of the top ten women and 4 of the top ten men competing here, the field is again very strong. The women’s event is a higher level tournament this year, being a Premier 5 which sees the draw expanded from 32 to 64. This means that the women’s event will start a day earlier and tennis fans will be able to see some fantastic tennis right from Sunday.
“We also have a full schedule of activities and entertainment happening in the tennis village, with the Kids’ Days proving more popular than ever, and the Ladies’ Day and Fantastic Fan Day sure to attract the best outfits and costumes.
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of tournament owners and organizers said: “We are looking forward to another exciting tournament this year. We are delighted to be welcoming the top players back again, and with so much happening in the village over the fortnight the atmosphere this year will be wonderful”.
While the men’s finals tickets again proved to be hot property, there are still tickets available for the first few days of the men’s week and for every day of the women’s week. Fans will have many opportunities to win finals tickets by participating in competitions in the stadium, on ARN radio, and on the tournament’s Facebook page. Fans are encouraged to check the tournament website and Facebook page for all the details on ticket competitions, and to be amongst the lucky winners.
The Irish Village and restaurants in the Century Village will be buzzing for the fortnight, so even those without tickets can watch the action live on big screens while enjoying the atmosphere and roving live entertainment.
Play in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships begins with the WTA event, which takes place between 15th and 21st February and features world number one Serena Williams, defending champion Venus Williams, former winners Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, and French Open and WTA Finals runner-up Simona Halep. Play then continues between 23rd and 28th February with the action-packed ATP tournament featuring Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for the event are available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Grandstand tickets can also be bought online at www.timeouttickets.com. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.