Novak and friends: Novak Djokovic, Marko Djokovic, Carlos Gomez-Herrera and Boris Becker.
Defending Dubai champion and ATP world number 2 Novak Djokovic was flying high yesterday as he prepares for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Djokovic was a guest of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, at his private wind tunnel, operated by Inflight Dubai.
Novak was joined by his head coach Boris Becker, his brother Marko, and his friend and fellow player, Carlos Gomez-Herrera, and they were assisted by instructor Brad Cole.
After a pre-flight briefing, Novak braved the wind tunnel which is powered by four huge turbine engines and can reach top speeds of over 320 kilometres an hour.
The Crown Prince is a keen sky diver and as Novak, Boris and the boys found out, this is the closest you can get to really jumping out of a plane!
Novak Djokovic and five-time winner Roger Federer on collision course
Defending champion Novak Djokovic and five-time winner Roger Federer were drawn to clash in the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships when the draw was made on Saturday.
Dubai Duty Free Hostess, George Horan – President Dubai Duty Free, Radek Stepanek, Salah Tahlak – Tournament Director, Dmitry Tursunov, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Colm McLoughlin – Executive Vice Chairman Dubai Duty Free, Abdul Rahman Falaknaz – Vice President Tennis Emirates, Gerry Armstrong – ATP Supervisor, Sinead El Sibai – Vice President Marketing Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Duty Free Hostess.
The pair have claimed the title an incredible nine times in the last 11 years, with Federer lifting the trophy for three consecutive years between 2003 and 2005, and Djokovic doing the same between 2009 and 2011.
In the past two years they have shared the title, with Federer beating Andy Murray in 2012 and Djokovic overcoming Tomas Berdych in 2013.
“Djokovic could well meet Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round, a player who produced one of the biggest upsets at the recent Australian Open when he beat our number two seed, Juan Martin del Potro, and Federer could meet the wily Radek Stepanek, who has played a pivotal role in the Czech Republic winning the Davis Cup for the past two years.”
Second seed Del Potro opens his bid for the title against popular wild card Somdev Devvarman, and he could meet 2013 runner-up and recent Rotterdam winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Berdych in the semi-finals. Berdych faces a qualifier in the first round.
Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes on Victor Hanescu and then could face veteran Nikolay Davydenko in the second round, sixth seed and two-time former finalist Mikhail Youzhny plays Michal Przysiezny, and seventh seed Philipp Kohlschreiber and eighth seed Dmitry Tursunov both play a qualifier.
Two further wild cards have been given to James Ward, who played a huge part in Great Britain’s recent Davis Cup victory over the United States, and Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, whose confidence is high after he reached the final of a Challenger event in Dallas earlier this month.
“We have no fewer than five of the world’s top 10 competing here in Dubai, including Dubai legends Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “While Federer will be seeking a record sixth title here, Djokovic will be attempting to win a fifth title at an even for the first time in his career.
“With other members of the Top 10 in the form of former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, and very in-form Tomas Berdych and the entertaining and highly-talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also vying for one of the most coveted trophies on the ATP World Tour, Dubai tennis fans are set to enjoy a fantastic week of top-class action.”