Dubai Duty Free tennis championships to host Rafael Nadal for first time in 15 years

Rafael Nadal will make a stunning return to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (DDFTC) next month, 15 years after his last competitive appearance in the United Arab Emirates.

Nadal, the DDFTC men’s champion in 2006, last appeared at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in 2008. Since then, he has established himself as one of the greatest male players in tennis history, winning a record 22 Grand Slam titles. Currently ranked No.2 in the world, Nadal will return for the annual ATP 500 event, which runs from the 27th of February to the 4th of March.

“As one of the most instantly recognisable personalities in global sport, and one of the most decorated players to ever grace the game, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome Rafa back to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after 15 years. The last time Rafa played in Dubai, he had won three Grand Slams. He returns having amassed more Grand Slam titles than any other male player in history,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.

Last year proved historic for Nadal, now 36. At the first Grand Slam of the season in Melbourne, he won a second Australian Open and 21st major title, moving him ahead of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the all-time Grand Slam winners’ list. Nadal also became only the second player in history to complete the double career grand slam. Five months later, he claimed a 14th French Open title, becoming the tournament’s oldest winner, extending his unrivalled Roland Garros record to 106 wins from 109 matches.

Commenting on Rafa’s return, Ramesh Cidambi, COO of Dubai Duty Free and Chair of the tournament organising committee said, “the whole world has watched Rafa’s extraordinary career and has applauded him as a true champion in the sport of tennis.

The committee is extremely happy that the fans in Dubai and the UAE will now have a rare opportunity to watch him live at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and marvel at his passion, energy and talent.  The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is an established event on the WTA and ATP Tours, and yet each year we seek to provide fans with an even richer experience. This year will be no exception with this opportunity to watch Rafa in his quest to add to the 92 titles he has won since 2001.

Having reached the quarterfinals in Dubai in 2005, Nadal returned in 2006 to beat, among others, Briton Tim Henman and Germany’s Rainer Schuttler on route to the final. Against World No.1 and top seed Federer, Nadal triumphed 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to mark his first victory over the Swiss in an ATP final. When Federer retired last year, ending one of the greatest tennis rivalries of all-time, Nadal’s record against Federer stood at 13-10 in ATP finals.

“We are looking forward to another fortnight of incredible tennis, with an elite line-up of some of the world’s best talent,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “To welcome Rafael Nadal back to Dubai after such a long time brings me great joy and I am sure fans will be as excited as I am to see Rafa competing at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium once again. With the full players fields for both tournaments set to be confirmed in the coming weeks, we are sure to have another pair of unforgettable men’s and women’s tournaments with many of the best players in the world.”

Next month’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships men’s tournament is preceded by the 23rd edition of the annual WTA event, which will continue to take place one week before the ATP event. The women’s tournament will run between February 19-25, before the 31st staging of the ATP Tour 500 tournament from February 27 and March 4.

Tickets for the Championships to go on sale online on 17th of January. Fans and spectators can purchase tickets directly from dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com

The tournament box office, next to the stadium, will open on 9th February and operation from 9am to 9pm daily.

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.

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