Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

Roger Federer and Ashleigh Barty headline 2020 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Six of the WTA's top 10 confirmed, including Pliskova, Halep, Andreescu and defending champion Bencic

Roger Federer with the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy in 2019 after winning the title for an eighth time. AFP
Roger Federer with the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy in 2019 after winning the title for an eighth time. AFP

Roger Federer will return to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month to defend his title, while six of the world's top 10 women have been confirmed for the WTA tournament, including top-ranked Ashleigh Barty.

Federer, 38, claimed a record-extending eighth Dubai title last year, which was also the Swiss' 100th career title, and the world No 3 will be back for the 2020 tournament, starting February 24.

World No 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, whom Federer beat in the 2019 final, will also return aiming to go one better. Other players set to compete in the men's even include world No 9 Gael Monfils, 2018 champion Roberto Bautista Agut, and Monte Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini, who will be making his Dubai debut.

The WTA tournament will take place February 17-22, the week prior to the ATP event, and boasts its trademark world-class field. The world's top three players, Barty, Karolina Pliskova, and Simona Halep, will all be competing in Dubai and will be joined by three other players ranked in the top 10: US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, defending Dubai champion Belinda Bencic, and world No 9 Kiki Bertens.

“Once again tennis fans in Dubai can look forward to a wonderful two weeks of competition between the very best players in the world,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.

“With such strong competition the final outcome is impossible to predict, and the only certainty is that the fortnight will produce many dramatic upsets and edge-of-the-seat battles as everyone fights for the right to be crowned the champion.”

Tickets for the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will go on sale on Monday at 9am (UAE) and are available to purchase at the tournament website. Tickets can be bought at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office from Wednesday.

“[Last year] was only the second time in the history of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships that two players from the same country emerged as our singles champions, and we are delighted to welcome Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic again,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.

Stefanos Tsitsipas will return to Dubai as the ATP Finals champion. EPA
Stefanos Tsitsipas will return to Dubai as the ATP Finals champion. EPA

“We look forward to seeing if they can set a new milestone by successfully defending those titles, but they face competition from one of the strongest fields ever assembled in Dubai.”

Federer, who won his first Dubai title in 2003, defeated Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in the 2019 final and the 20-time grand slam champion looks set to be the main attraction in the men's tournament.

Tsitsipas, however, is sure to provide another stern challenge having beaten Federer in a four-set thriller at the Australian Open last year at the start of a season in which he surged to world No 6 and won the ATP Finals title.

Bencic's 2019 triumph ended a near four-year title drought due to various injury setbacks and proved the catalyst for a year that saw the Swiss return to the world's top 10 and reach her first grand slam semi-final at the US Open.

Bencic needed to beat four top-10 players to win the title last year and the 22-year-old will need to produce similar heroics if she is to defend her title next month.

Belinda Bencic ended a near four-year wait between titles when she won the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. EPA
Belinda Bencic ended a near four-year wait between titles when she won the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. EPA

Leading the challenge will be Barty, who will arrive in Dubai following a remarkable 12 months, during which the Australian won her first major title at the French Open, claimed the season-ending WTA Finals - as well as trophies in Miami and Birmingham - and reached the top of the world rankings.

World No 2 Pliskova will also be among the favourites having won four titles in 2019, while the Czech also has good history in Dubai having reached the 2015 final. Indeed, the player she lost to in that showdown will be confident of her own chances to repeat success. World No 3 Halep will head to Dubai as the Wimbledon champion having produced a masterclass to defeat Serena Williams for her second grand slam title.

US Open champion Andreescu is sure to provide her own threat having climbed to world No 6 during a 2019 that not only included a first major title but also victories at Indian Wells and Toronto, despite a lengthy injury layoff.

Bertens, meanwhile, will be looking to replicate her Madrid Masters-winning form in Dubai after three successive opening round defeats.

World No 1 and French Open champion Ashleigh Barty will be one of the favourites in Dubai. AP Photo
World No 1 and French Open champion Ashleigh Barty will be one of the favourites in Dubai. AP Photo

Updated: January 12, 2020 10:29 AM

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