Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 January 2020

Novak Djokovic to join Roger Federer at 2020 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Four-time winner makes his first return to the ATP 500 tournament since 2016

Novak Djokovic is in Melbourne preparing for his Australian Open title defence. EPA
Novak Djokovic is in Melbourne preparing for his Australian Open title defence. EPA

Novak Djokovic will bid to win his fifth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title next month after the world No 2 confirmed his place at the ATP 500 event on Wednesday.

Djokovic, who won the Dubai title three years in a row from 2009 to 2011 and again in 2013, will be joined at the February 24-29 tournament by eight-time and defending champion Roger Federer. The long-time rivals have previously met in two Dubai finals, winning one each – Djokovic in 2011 before Federer exacted revenge in 2015.

World No 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached last year's final, will return to Dubai aiming to lead the charge of the challengers, which also includes 2018 champion Roberto Bautista Agut, world No 10 Gael Monfils, and Monte Carlo Masters winner Fabio Fognini.

“We are thrilled to welcome Novak Djokovic back to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said.

“He is one of the greatest champions the game has ever seen, with 16 grand slam titles so far to his name with no doubt more to come.

"We are delighted to not only welcome him, but also welcome one of the finest athletes in any sport over the past decade and more, Roger Federer, as well as one of the brightest future stars on the ATP Tour, Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“They will begin as favourites for the title, but experience over the years has shown us that none can be assured of success here in what is such a competitive field. It will be fascinating to see who will emerge as the winner.”

Djokovic made his first appearance in Dubai in 2007, reaching the quarter-finals, and after reaching the semi-finals the following year, clinched the title for the first time in 2009 by beating Spain's David Ferrer in the final.

The former world No 1 successfully defended the trophy 12 months later when he defeated Russian Mikhail Youzhny in a close final, before completing the "three-peat" against Federer in 2011.

His 18-match winning run in Dubai was ended by Andy Murray in the 2012 semis, but Djokovic bounced back by winning the title the following year, overcoming Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych in the final.

Djokovic's participation next month will be his first appearance at the tournament since he retired with an eye injury during his 2016 quarter-final match against Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

Djokovic has already laid down a marker for the 2020 season after guiding Serbia to victory in the inaugural ATP Cup, winning all six singles matches including a convincing victory over world No 1 Rafael Nadal in the final. The 32-year-old Serb is the strong favourite to defend his title at this month's Australian Open, where he is a seven-time winner.

“The stage is set once again for a magnificent two weeks of world-class tennis, with one of the strongest men’s and women’s fields ever assembled in Dubai,” said tournament director Salah Tahlak.

“With so many top players confirmed, fans will have their pick on which world-class matches to watch on Centre Court."

The week before the men's tournament, many of the world's best female players will be competing in the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Six of the WTA Tour's top-10 – including the top three Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova, and Simona Halep – have all been confirmed for the February 17-22 Premier event, as well as US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, defending Dubai champion Belinda Bencic, and world No 9 Kiki Bertens.

Tickets for both weeks are available to buy on the tournament website and will go on sale at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis stadium box office from January 29.

Updated: January 15, 2020 04:02 PM

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