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Novak Djokovic is targeting a fourth title in Dubai next month.
Novak Djokovic is targeting a fourth title in Dubai next month.

Cream of the tennis crop expected to play in Dubai

Strong fields are shaping up for the men and women's competitions for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month will boast even more of the world's elite men than a year ago, and just as many of the top women, if early indications are correct.

More complete lists will be announced in the coming week, but tentative Dubai line-ups include both world No 1s, Novak Djokovic and Caroline Wozniacki, as well as six of the men's top 10 and eight of the women's best 10.

A year ago, neither world No 1 played in Dubai; both Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters took the week off.

However, Djokovic seized the No 1 ranking from Nadal last spring and will arrive in Dubai seeking his fourth consecutive championship at the Aviation Club.

Also expected in Dubai on the men's side are the No 3 Roger Federer, who has a home in the city, and the No 4 Andy Murray, plus the trio camped at Nos 6-8: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Mardy Fish. Juan Martin del Potro, the big-hitting Argentine, is also expected to play in Dubai, and this week he is No 11 in the world.

A year ago, three of the top 10 played in Dubai, including Djokovic and Federer, who reached the final.

Eight of the top 10 women played Dubai last year, but the tourney came during a brief spell when Clijsters was No 1. Wozniacki was No 2 as the week began, and she regained the No 1 ranking while on UAE soil, winning the championship in straight sets over Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Other top women expected in Dubai are the rising stars Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka, Nos 2-3; the No 5 Li Na and No 6 Samantha Stosur and the Nos 8-10 trio of Agnieszka Radwanka, Marion Bartoli and Andrea Petkovic.

Also expected in the women's field are three players who have drifted in the rankings without losing their significant popularity, including Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and Maria Kirilenko.

The first round of the women's tournament begins on February 20, with the men taking over on the following Monday, February 27.

Dubai's strong fields come in the teeth of significant competition for top players, particularly on the men's side; ATP tournaments in Delray Beach and Acapulco are scheduled for the same week. The Dubai women's tournament covers the same seven-day period as a WTA event in Monterrey, Mexico.




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