Australian Open winners Novak Djokovic and Angelique Kerber will be among the star attractions when play gets underway at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in just two weeks’ time.
In an impressive line-up of stars heading to Dubai, they will be joined in what is traditionally one of the most competitive tennis events in the world by world number one Serena Williams and seven-time Dubai winner Roger Federer.
Kerber’s stunning Australian Open upset of Williams in a three-set thriller came after the German had saved a match point in her opening match, making her the first woman in the Open Era to win the Australian Open having saved a match point in the first round. She is also the second German woman, after Steffi Graf, to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era.
Although Kerber frustrated Williams’ attempt to equal Graf’s haul of 22 Grand Slam titles, regardless of the outcome of their results in Dubai, the American is set to match Graf’s achievement of being ranked as the world number one continuously for three years, a career milestone that Williams will reach at the conclusion of the WTA week.
"When I was match point down, I actually had one leg in the plane back to Germany. I got a second chance, and I took that chance to be here in the finals to play against Serena,” said the newly-crowned Australian Open champion. “My dream came true tonight. My whole life I was working really hard, and now I'm here and I can say I'm a Grand Slam champion, and it sounds really crazy."
Williams is set to bounce back and secure her first title in Dubai at her fifth attempt. Despite her defeat in Australia no-one will question the phenomenal ability of a player who had won her previous eight Grand Slam finals prior to Melbourne and her previous 15 finals overall dating back to August 2013.
Djokovic was able to continue his recent dominance of world number two Andy Murray, earning his 11th victory in their last 12 meetings to win his sixth Australian title and equal the record set by Roy Emerson in the 1960s.
It was his fifth consecutive Grand Slam final and he won his 11th Grand Slam title, placing him equal fifth on the all-time list with Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg. Now he will prepare to return to Dubai in the hope of adding to his astonishing 61 career titles and it is something he is eagerly looking forward to.
“Players feel the most comfortable here in Dubai,” he said. “You always have three or four of the top 10 players in the world, so we are always on the top of our game. Dubai has some of the best shopping in the world and with it being truly one of the most attractive tourist destinations with so much to do, it makes it the perfect host city for a world class ATP tournament.”
“Tennis fans could not ask for more than to see not only the reigning Australian Open champions but the two world number ones,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free.
“Angelique Kerber is only the fourth player to have beaten Williams in a Grand Slam final, marking her as a player of great quality, and Novak Djokovic has already proved his ability by not only winning so many Grand Slams but also four titles here in Dubai. It will clearly take an exceptional performance to stop Kerber and Djokovic from continuing their success and we look forward to seeing if anyone is up to the challenge.”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak commented, “Once again the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has attracted the very best that the sport has to offer, and we are guaranteed another two weeks of spectacular competition. It will be fascinating to see if Kerber and Djokovic can repeat their Australian success here in Dubai, as they face the very toughest of competition with many members of the world’s top 10 and others eager to secure the title for themselves.”
Play in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships begins with the WTA event, which takes place between February 15 and 20 and features not only world number one Serena Williams and Australian Open winner Angelique Kerber, but Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza, 2015 WTA Finals and 2016 Shenzhen champion Agnieszka Radwanska, and former world number ones Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic.
Play then continues between February 22 and 27 with the action-packed ATP tournament featuring a stunning three of the world’s top four players in Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, as well as two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for the event are on sale at the Box Office at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, which is open from 9am to 9pm daily and online at http://www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets
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