A quick look from the sidelines of the courts at the Aviation Club, the venue of the Dubai Tennis Championships.
Novak Djokovic differs with Federer over the love for slopes
Skiing worth the risk
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both love skiing, but while the Swiss would like to wait till the end of his tennis career to pursue that sport, the world No 1 makes sure there are no clause in any of his endorsement deals that would prevent him from going downhill on snow-covered slopes. "I always try to condition my endorsement deals not to forbid me to ski," said Djokovic, who went skiing with his friends and family during the break he took after his Australian Open triumph. "I am in love with skiing, not crazy skiing."
Federer, however, thinks differently and he said: "Some people need these other sports to feel ready to go for tennis, I don't. I would love to, but tennis is just too important for me to get injured somewhere else."
Proud to be a Serbian
Djokovic has five grand slam trophies at home and plenty of other medals, but his proudest is the one he got recently for his service to the nation. The world No 1 was bestowed Serbia's top honour, the Order of the Karadjordje's Star of the 1st Degree, recently and he said: "I have been very flattered to receive the Serbian award. It is incredibly meaningful for me because it comes from my people. It has not much to do with my tennis, but with my patriotism and love of my country, the way I represent it in the world. There are very few awards that you receive throughout your life for your work off the court. So this is one of them and I am very grateful."
Fish gets the 'fright'
Ranked eighth in the world now, Mardy Fish is the United States' top tennis player and has played against some of the sports' greatest in his 12 years on the circuit, but the American swears he has not faced a bigger server than the man who beat him in Marseille last week, Albano Olivetti.
"That guy, I was frightened at time with his serve that I played last week," said Fish, who cruised through his opening round match against Andreas Beck 6-1, 6-1 yesterday. "He hit me with a couple serves and that guy had the hardest, the fastest serve that I've ever played against. I mean, he almost broke my left wrist on the first second serve he hit."
Marko's upper hand
Djokovic is the boss of men's tennis, but his younger brother Marko claims to have the edge when it comes to pitting their skills on PlayStation. "He's my brother and always the things we do in life - playing PlayStation, football, basketball, all these things - you're trying to see who's better. There it doesn't matter if he's No 1. I'm more into technology. Football, I can't say [I can beat him]. Maybe he's going to get angry, but yeah I beat him at PlayStation."
Kids raise a racket
More than a 1,000 schoolchildren from around the Gulf kicked-off the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships yesterday, with a few lucky ones getting to hit balls with the tournament's No 2 doubles pair of Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau.
"We had a great response to the Dubai Duty Free Kid's Day which launched the women's week last Monday, and it is fantastic to see so many children here as we celebrate 20 years of the men's tournament in Dubai," said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers. Salah Tahlak, the tournament director, said: "With 1,000 children here, it proves how popular tennis is in the Middle East. Opportunities for these youngsters such as the one today ensures that the future of the sport is bright."